Ryanair’s Twitter account pulls no punches on U.S. election

The European airline has been snarking as the U.S. election results hang in the balance. How are the sassy tweets being received?


Most U.S. brands have avoided inflammatory comments in the wake of the contentious presidential election. At the time of reporting, news media outlets have yet to declare a winner in the race, as many key states remain too close to call, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona.

However, companies based outside the U.S. have taken more chances in addressing the election—which is generating keen global interest.

In particular, Ryanair’s Twitter account is bringing the heat:

As the results began to indicate that former Vice President Joe Biden would win an Electoral College victory, the brand turned up the snark:

The airline also riffed on tweets from President Trump, in which he tried to claim victory in yet-to-be-decided states. His comments were flagged by Twitter and became a meme on the social media platform:

Ryanair’s side-eye wasn’t just reserved for the top candidates:

The strategy is an unambiguous effort to newsjack the U.S. election, which has received a massive amount of attention from audiences around the world. However, social media is a two-way street, and brands that go edgy for engagement must be ready for criticism.

Users commented on the tweets from Ryanair with their own takes on the brands’ quips. For example, when the brand tried to make a joke about passengers’ envy for fellow travelers snacks, a user made the same comparison to a customers’ envy for another passenger who received a cash refund rather than a travel voucher:

The team made sure to respond to many of the messages with a personal signature from someone on the customer service team, in what has become a best practice for engaging consumers online.

For brand managers, the takeaways are evident. Jumping into a global conversation with snarky humor can work, but social media campaigns must be paired with robust customer service resources and social media listening operations.

Even then, your engagements online might be much more negative than you might have hoped for.


One Response to “Ryanair’s Twitter account pulls no punches on U.S. election”

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    An important PR reality Ryanair recognizes is that while political leaders enthuse about “bringing us together,” the PR leader’s job is to keep us apart. We need to maximize public awareness of:

    PRODUCT DIFFERENCES. How what we offer is superior to what else is out there.

    COMPANY DIFFERENCES. How our company is superior in serving the public interest, how we do more than necessary to help people because we know what they are up against and we’re eager to make life better.

    VALUES DIFFERENCES. Expressions like “better things for better living through chemistry” or even the radical-sounding “just do it” win goodwill from people who feel “they are like me, they believe in what I believe in.”

    The classic questions in creating a PR program are (a) what do our publics believe now, (b) what do we want them to believe, and (c) what can we do to make that happen. In formulating our answers to “b” and “c” we may be more successful if we bear in mind that an underlying objective of the whole PR effort is to stand apart in our perceived goodness, and to not be lumped together with other companies or with companies in general.

    Some Washington leaders in both parties feel of companies, and post-inauguration we may see the feeling turned into proposals for anti-business legislation, that “they’re all bastards.” A JFK speech once reported: “My father always said all businessmen are bastards!”

    So our PR program should make it obvious, as by our sponsoring a research project with a big hospital to reduce cancers or heart diseases that kill millions of us, that bastards we are certainly not.

    And we should heed the wisdom of Pocahontas who said “speak for yourself, John.” We should make clear how WE are corporate good guys and not be lumped together with company leaders in general because bastards some of them are.

PR Daily News Feed

Sign up to receive the latest articles from PR Daily directly in your inbox.