Travel agency ad banned for masquerading as official Ethiopian Airlines site

(EBC; September 7, 2017) - An ad from travel agency Tickets House has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for misleading consumers into thinking it was an official ad for Ethiopian Airlines.

The ad, which appeared as a website and paid-for search ad in May, featured images of planes with the Ethiopian Airlines logo on them, along with the airline's official tagline The New Spirit of Africa.

The ad guided people to book flights for the airline on the website - the same URL as the official Ethiopian Airlines website except for an extra letter "s" in the middle and a "" instead of a ".com" domain.

A complainant challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that it was the official Ethiopian Airlines website, and that by clicking the link on the ad they would be accessing the official site.

While the ASA acknowledged that there was text at the bottom of the home page which stated "our website should not be considered a representation of the airline, it is to provide options for flights and promote sales worldwide", it did not consider the text as sufficiently prominent, and so was likely to be overlooked by consumers.

What's more, there was no other text on the homepage of the website that indicated the website was a third party travel agency and not the official Ethiopian Airlines website.

For those reasons, the advertising watchdog ruled that the ad was likely to mislead consumers, and banned the ads from appearing again in their current form.