COMPANIES using the term "giveaway" in promotions will have to prove deals are genuinely free after a ruling by the advertising watchdog today.
Low-cost airline Ryanair ran a promotion in a national newspaper which promised: "1 million flights giveaway".
The advert went on: "We have a million flights to over 30 destinations in Europe from the UK and Ireland - all you need to do is pay for the taxes, fees and airport charges."
It led to complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) from the Passenger Shipping Association and the Consumers' Association.
Both said the headline was "misleading" because additional charges applied.
Ryanair said the term "giveaway" meant "to denote or bestow as a gift or prize" or "to sell very cheaply".
The Daily Mirror, in which the advert app- eared, said the contents had been approved by an industry body linked to the ASA in advance and that it had not received any complaints.
The ASA, after an investigation, labelled the headline in the promotion "ambiguous" because readers could assume it meant flights were free.
The watchdog said: "Flights available through the promotion were neither `free' nor, in some cases, `very cheap'."
It added: "Because consumers could not obtain flights without paying taxes and charges, the authority considered the implication the flights were free was misleading."