Ryanair Ordered to Pay $88,000 Damages to French President's Wife

07 February 2008

PARIS: Ryanair, an Irish budget airline famed for trimming its costs more closely than a Sweeney Todd shave, skimped once too often when it decided to run an ad featuring French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his recent bride, the former supermodel Carla Bruni.

Ryanair being Ryanair didn't see why it should ask permission to feature the couple in its ad – let alone pay a fee for doing so.

The ad, which appeared in a French newspaper shortly before the couple's wedding on February 2, featured a thought bubble above the bride-to be's head saying: "With Ryanair, all my family can come to my wedding."

The outrage of M and Mme Sarkozy was such that legal proceedings – normally a longwinded process in France – were instigated and brought to trial in a matter of days, with damages of €60,000 awarded to the ex-supermodel.

The former Mlle Bruni, however, had sought many times that amount – €502,000 to be precise -claiming this to be her standard  fee for appearing in an ad.

The president himself asked for, and received, token damages of just one euro.

But Ryanair, doubtless conscious that the free publicity was worth its weight in jet fuel, displayed atypical generosity and offered an additional €60,000 donation to a charity of Monsieur le Président's choice.

Data sourced from WashingtonPost.com; additional content by WARC staff