Friday 28 April 2017

O'Leary wants Ryanair to be like the Sex Pistols

Kenny Jacobs, left, and Robin Kiely, Ryanair’s head of communications, as ‘Back to the Future’ characters to celebrate airline’s 30th anniversary
Kenny Jacobs, left, and Robin Kiely, Ryanair’s head of communications, as ‘Back to the Future’ characters to celebrate airline’s 30th anniversary

Gordon Deegan

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary is a strong believer that Ryanair should be a little bit like the Sex Pistols - and stay different.

That is according to Ryanair's marketing boss, Kenny Jacobs, who is credited with giving the airline its new cuddly image that is paying rich dividends for the company.

Speaking at the annual Academy of Marketing Conference at the University of Limerick (UL's) Jim Kemmy School of Business, Mr Jacobs admitted that he "completely ripped off" Ryanair's 'Always Getting Better' marketing plan from Tesco's 'Every Little Helps'".

He said: "I just adapted it for Ryanair. It has worked perfectly well. This was just something copying something good."

Formerly of Tesco, Mr Jacobs said Ryanair has been able to harness the relentlessness in the airline for the benefit of consumers rather than before when that relentlessness was harnessed for the benefit of having a scrap with whoever the airline wanted a scrap with.

In the job 18 months, the 41-year-old Cork native said that regarding marketing, "in some ways, the only way was up because Ryanair was an at an important crossroads in terms of what it does next".

He admitted that the airline had lost its way a little bit.

"Ryanair did start off as the good guy, but three years ago, it is fair to say the brand did get to a place where it was a little rough around the edges and things did need to change," Mr Jacobs said.

"We reached a point where customers were paying 'x' price with Ryanair and 'x price plus €20' with another airline and they were saying 'I will go with the other airline'.

"That was seen as a line in the sand and we said 'let's see and do a few things differently'."

Mr Jacobs said that there was no resistance in the airline to change. He said: "Everyone said 'about bloody time'. It was an open door."

Mr Jacobs said that "there was no one at Ryanair saying 'no, I like this old approach, it is great having a s**t website, no app and basically no engaging with customers'."

Yesterday, Ryanair celebrated 30 years of flights and Mr Jacobs said that one of the key components of Ryanair's new approach is to stay different.

He said: "Everything is starting to look like everything else, whether it be watches, phones or airlines and I am a great believer - and thankfully, my boss is a great believer in - we are going to be a little bit like the Sex Pistols, we are going to stay different."

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