Watchdog Reins-In the Term 'Giveaway' in UK Promotions

25 June 2004

The word 'giveaway' is likely to disappear from future advertising slogans following a ruling by UK ad watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority, that such phrases must only accompany a genuine free deal.

The ASA upheld complaints from both the Passenger Shipping Association and the Consumers' Association over a Ryanair promotion which it described as "misleading", since additional charges applied.

Budget airline Ryanair had tempted customers with a "One million flights giveaway" campaign, then attempted to rewrite the dictionary by defining 'giveaway' as "denote or bestow as a gift or a prize" or "to sell very cheaply".

The promotion was carried in the Daily Mirror which backed Ryanair, claiming an ASA-linked body had approved the ad. It added that commercials prior to the 'giveaway' promotion ensured readers would be aware of the extra fees and taxes.

An ASA spokeswoman, however, maintained the advertising was ambiguous: "If something is being described as a giveaway, consumers shouldn't have to spend a penny."

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff