Ryanair's O'Leary u-turns on 'I'm our marketing director' stance

Michael O'Leary: the chief executive officer of Ryanair
Michael O'Leary: the chief executive officer of Ryanair

Ryanair's Michael O'Leary, one of the most outspoken airline chiefs, known for praising the benefits of bad publicity and claiming to be the company's sole marketing director, has u-tuned on his previous comments and is recruiting a sales and marketing director.

The successful candidate will report directly to O’Leary and take responsibility for all sales and marketing activity for Ryanair’s brand, including communications. They will also become the main spokesperson for the airline in all markets.

The new addition to Ryanair’s team will be responsible for devising and implementing all sales, promotions, advertising, brand development and communication strategy to promote Ryanair’s safety, customer service and low fare messages.

O’Leary has outlined to Marketing in the past that he is the airline’s sole marketing professional, claiming "I’m our marketing director," and "short of committing murder, bad publicity sells more seats".

In January Ryanair hired Robin Kiely as the airline’s head of comms, a position which O’Leary had described as "high profile and incredibly overpaid". He claimed it had been dubbed by some media as "the worst job in PR".

The u-turn in O’Leary’s stance against hiring a marketing director comes weeks after the airline’s annual general meeting with shareholders, at which O’Leary admitted, "We should try and eliminate things that unnecessarily piss people off".

He added: "I’m very happy to take the responsibility if we have a macho or overly abrupt culture. Some of that may well be my own personal deformities."

O’Leary was met with criticism from shareholders for the airline’s poor customer service and harsh policies at the meeting. He now admits Ryanair is revamping its website to improve the way it communicates with consumers and journalists.

A week later, Ryanair unveiled its Twitter account, @Ryanair, despite having notoriously eschewed social media as a brand communications platform and ignoring Facebook complaint groups.

The new Twitter account is designed to ensure that Ryanair’s passengers and the media can keep up to date with the latest news, route developments and special offers.

In addition, O’Leary is hiring a commercial director that will take responsibility for all route development, airport negotiations, scheduling, load factor, traffic growth and yield management.

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