PARIS – French President Nicolas Sarkozy has asked his lawyer to take legal action against low-cost airline Ryanair for using a photo of him and girlfriend Carla Bruni in an advertisement, a spokesman said Monday.
The Ryanair ad, published Monday in the French daily Le Parisien, shows the smiling couple with a comic book speech bubble coming from Bruni's saying: "With Ryanair, all my family can come to my wedding."
Sarkozy adviser Franck Louvrier said the French leader is requesting the immediate removal of the ad, although it was not immediately clear if he would also seek damages. He said Sarkozy's office considers the ad "an improper use of the president's image."
Ryanair Holdings PLC, in a statement, said: "It was a humorous comment on a matter of great public interest in France. We apologize sincerely for any offense caused."
The romance between the recently divorced president and the supermodel-turned-singer has captured headlines since they went public with their relationship in December.
Sarkozy, who turned 53 on Monday, has hinted that marriage is on the cards with Bruni, 40, though he has not revealed a date.
It is not the first time Ryanair, Europe's biggest low-cost airline, has used politicians' likenesses without permission. The company has used photos of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in past ads.
The Irish budget airline last year reportedly settled a lawsuit filed by Sweden's ex-Prime Minister Goran Persson out of court after using Persson's photo picture without his consent.