Do you ever open up your local paper and see a report about some little feral rat-boy who can't keep out of trouble, no matter how many Asbos get slapped on him? You know, the sort of scraggy joker who'll keep getting in trouble, graffiti-ing the precinct, swearing at people, causing chaos and generally being a little shit. It doesn't seem to matter how many times he goes up in front of the magistrates; he always gets away with it, pretending he's really sorry and then grinning as soon as he gets the 250th 'final warning'.
Reminds me of Ryanair.
Ah, Ryanair. Those working-class champions, bless them. Honestly, all they're trying to do is fight for the rights of poor people who want to go on holiday, but they're thwarted time and time again but bad naughty old governments who want to tax businesses who make millions of pounds every year, those pesky environmentalists who worry about climate change obliterating the planet, and disabled people who have the disgusting cheek to want to be treated like everyone else; what a lovely benevolent organisation - let me wipe away a tear while I soak in their magnanimity.
Good on you, Mr O'Leary, you lovely, kind, sweet old man - just like Father Christmas but with planes rather than a sleigh.
But what's this?
Well we don't know for sure yet, so let's not rush to any judgements. The fact that they've been misleading, economical with the truth and downright mendacious shouldn't make us think that they're going to be among the culprits again.
And while a lot of what Ryanair does with its advertising is tacky, vile, annoying, petty, childish, tedious, unimaginative, pathetic shit that appeals to the lowest common denominator, there really isn't a law against that. But there have been times when they've crossed the line.
Of course, I'd like to think that they've changed their ways - and that everything was just a good honest misunderstanding in the first place. The fact that the utterly toothless ASA has about as much chance of penalising them as I do by writing them a stern letter has nothing to do with their repeated breaches of the code, obviously. No, no. But there's a classic 'Withdrawn!' quality to their campaigns in the past. Say something, get told off, but by then it's too late and the damage has been done. Your message is out there. Doesn't matter if you get told to take it down. 'Withdraw it? - we already have!'
I propose a simple - though sadly rather unlikely to happen - solution that could possibly stop these jokers from their recidivism. Let the ASA be truly independent and have the power to enforce companies who repeatedly transgress their rules to take out adverts apologising for their behaviour. An Asbo for Ryanair, if you will. But an Abso that might use the one thing they love - publicity - against them.
These ads should be the same size and prominence as the offending ones, and they should appear in every location where the originals did. They should not be eligible for any tax offset and no discounts should apply. The wording will be decided by the ASA, not the companies. Make the culprits pay through the nose for their mistakes, once they've been given fair warning and ignored it, especially when they're slagging off other companies.
But still. Everything's going to be all right. Our consumer champion Michael O'Leary is going to look after us, just out of the goodness of his heart. And if he doesn't... well, he'll just keep getting away with it, and there's nothing we can do about it. Hooray!