In March 2006 we reported that Swedish PM Goran Persson had sued over a Ryanair ad picturing him and headed “Time to leave the country”. Now the parties have settled. Stephen Groom reports with help from Magnus Friberg of Malmo Attorneys Setterwalls.
Topic: People in advertising
Who: Ryanair, Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson and former Foreign Secretary Leila Frievalds
When: December 2007
Law stated as at: 2 January 2008
An out of court settlement was concluded between budget airline and ad regulator scourge Ryanair on the one hand and on the other Sweden's Prime Minister Goran Persson and ex Foreign Secretary Leila Frievalds.
What caused the dispute in the first place was the appalling tsunami disaster on 26 December 2005. The Swedish PM and then Foreign Secretary were subsequently the butt of widespread public criticism for perceived inaction in the wake of these events and following severe criticism by an independent review body, Foreign Secretary Frievalds resigned.
It was at the height of these events that Ryanair published an advertisement in the Swedish press featuring a photograph of the two politicians and the headline "Time to leave the country?"
Messrs Persson and Frievalds were not impressed and filed suit against Ryanair in the Stockholm District Court in March 2006 for damages for breaching the Name and Image in Advertising Act ("NIA"). The equivalent of £6,000 damages each was claimed on the basis that the advertisement "exploited" (a requirement of the NIA) them and was offensive and insulting.
Fast forward nearly eighteen months and with no side having blinked, the matter was due in court for the final showdown. However it was then that the parties saw sense and patched up a settlement. The deal involved Ryanair paying a total of 75,000 Swedish Kroner (£6,000), when double this was originally demanded, with the sum going to charity, not the claimants themselves.
Why this matters:
This is perhaps not a settlement Ryanair would want to crow about and underlines the marked differences that exist in the laws across Europe impacting on the use of personalities in advertising without their consent.
In similar circumstances it is unlikely two similarly-placed UK politicians would have extracted a penny from the courts or even a "Complaint upheld" finding from the Advertising Standards Authority, given the CAP Code's leniency towards the portrayal of people in advertising in a manner that is not inconsistent with the position of the person featured.