Ryanair:

Air­line’s im­age hit by can­cel­la­tion cri­sis while Aer Lin­gus’s soars, study con­firms

The Irish Times - - Front Page - LAURA SLAT­TERY

The brand im­age of the low-cost air­line plunged last month af­ter flights were can­celled:

Ryanair’s brand im­age plunged last month fol­low­ing its flight can­cel­la­tion cri­sis, ac­cord­ing to a monthly brand im­age study by me­dia agency Core Me­dia.

Core, which is Ire­land’s largest buyer of ad­ver­tis­ing, said Ryanair recorded one of the big­gest drops in brand “vi­tal­ity” it has ever wit­nessed.

“For the first time ever, Ryanair’s brand sen­ti­ment went neg­a­tive,” said Core Me­dia strate­gic plan­ner Thomas Geoghe­gan.

The Core Me­dia re­search asks more than 1,000 con­sumers to rate their feel­ings about 117 brands each month on a scale of one to five, and then asks if they have seen or heard any­thing about each brand over the past month.

Th­ese sen­ti­ment and vis­i­bil­ity mea­sures are com­bined into a sin­gle mea­sure of brand vi­tal­ity, which lets the agency rank com­pa­nies, com­pare them against their peers and mon­i­tor their per­for­mance over time.

“As Ryanair’s brand sen­ti­ment plunged to its low­est point ever, their vis­i­bil­ity also jumped to 80 per cent, the high­est ever. This tells us that Ryanair stood out in peo­ple’s minds more strongly than ever be­fore, but for all the wrong rea­sons,” said Mr Geoghe­gan.

Ryanair, which pub­lishes its half-year fi­nan­cial re­sults oto­day, an­nounced on Septem­ber 15th that it would can­cel an av­er­age of 50 flights a day for six weeks, af­fect­ing about 315,000 pas­sen­gers. The num­ber af­fected was later re­vised up­wards to 400,000.

Ryanair chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael O’Leary was forced to apol­o­gise for the can­cel­la­tions, which re­lated to ros­ter­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, but he later prompted out­rage when he sug­gested at a press con­fer­ence that pi­lots have an easy job.

Traf­fic growth

De­spite the can­cel­la­tions, pas­sen­ger traf­fic at Ryanair grew 10 per cent year-on-year in Septem­ber to 11.8 mil­lion.

Core Me­dia said that as Ryanair’s brand im­age de­scended in Septem­ber, Aer Lin­gus’s score soared, as Ir­ish con­sumers re­verted to “the most trusted brand”.

Ryanair of­ten es­chews tra­di­tional ad­ver­tis­ing, re­ly­ing more on “grab­bing head­lines” and di­rect chan­nels such as email that pro­mote its seat sales, the group noted.

“Re­cent events show us that this ap­proach works well for Ryanair when things are go­ing well, but the brand ex­pe­ri­ences se­vere tur­bu­lence when they aren’t.”

Mr Geoghe­gan said the cri­sis had ef­fec­tively grounded the “al­ways get­ting bet­ter” repo­si­tion­ing of the brand, which be­gan in 2014 when Mr O’Leary de­cided the air­line would adopt a “car­ing and cud­dly” new mes­sage.

‘‘

For the first time ever, Ryanair’s brand sen­ti­ment went neg­a­tive

PHO­TO­GRAPH: NIALL CAR­SON/PA WIRE

Michael O’Leary: prompted out­rage when he sug­gested that pi­lots have an easy job.

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