CONTROVERSIAL budget airline Ryanair has been censured 38 times over its adverts during the past decade, but has escaped sanction by the national advertising watchdog.
The latest complaint upheld by the independent Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) yesterday found that a Ryanair advert was "provocative and had been used merely to attract attention".
The ad -- which generated 11 complaints from consumers in Ireland, the UK, Belgium and Spain -- featured a photo of "Gillian, the March Ryanair calendar girl" wearing just a bra and panties alongside the headline: "Red Hot Fares & Crew."
Ryanair was "reminded that it was not acceptable to use provocative images to sell unrelated products such as airline seats".
This latest censure is among 38 complaints upheld by the ASAI over the past decade that it found to be "either misleading or caused offence in the area of taste and decency".
However, ASAI chairman Frank Goodman said the group -- set up by the industry itself to regulate its members -- has never applied sanctions against repeat offenders.
"Our policy is we publish the cases and that's it," he told the Irish Independent.
"There is a provision in the code for sanctions but they haven't been applied. We consider it sufficient that the ad is withdrawn."
A Ryanair spokesman last night was unrepentant, saying: "Today's ruling shows how pointless this process is -- a handful of prudes complained but 10,000 bought the calendar, which proves you can't please all the people all of the time, but with our charity calendar and low fares, Ryanair pleases most of the people most of the time."
The complaint was among seven adverts found to be in breach of advertising standards, including an ad for a cosmetic surgery clinic that was broadcast on TV3 during the day.
The ad for the Cosmedico clinic featured the image of a naked 28-year-old model covering her breasts with her arm accompanied by a voiceover stating: "Invest in yourself for a change and work with the best surgeons in Ireland."
A mother of a 14-year-old girl complained that the ad was intended to promote breast surgery and was unsuitable viewing for children.
The ASAI's complaints committee recommended that the ad should not run again in its current format.