This article originally appeared on 60 Second Social.

Top international rugby referee Nigel Owens found himself at the centre of a twitter advertising campaign by Ryanair today when tweeted Aer Lingus about a delay to his flight. Before he was due to referee the final Ireland match agains Australia he was due to fly in early to appear at a Q&A session at Blackrock College.

However, his Aer Lingus flight was delayed from Bristol and Nigel did what many of us do to voice disappointment these days. He took to Twitter. What he didn’t bank on at the time was that Ryanair were waiting to come in and hijack the discussion.

“Due to do a Q&A at Blackrock College Dublin this morning for some kids project work, Flight delayed for 2 hours. Sorry I won’t make it,” he tweeted. However when there was little movement on his flight time and a further delay, the ref took to Twitter again to complain directly to Aer Lingus about his lack of movement.

“Flight delayed again now toll at least 12.15pm. Been sat in Bristol airport since 7am now. @AerLingus whats going on? AR1 Ire v Aus tomo” 

It seems like a fairly innocuous exchange and it was up to this point, however waiting in the wings was Ryanair and they saw an opportunity to grab some free advertising to his 101,000 followers. “We’ll get you to the Aviva on time Nigel, on the lowest fares & you can pack extra whistles in your two free bags!”

Later Mr Owens took to Twitter to provide an update : “No estimated time now leaving Bristol is 12.10 nightmare” 

With no response from Aer Lingus at the time of tweeting he told Ryanair he’d be flying with them in the future. Ryanair were obviously getting into the the groove and took the opportunity to have a dig in at another rival airline.

“We look forward to welcoming you on board. Good luck tomorrow. *We’re also much cheaper than Quantas ;)”

Aer Lingus did reply to Nigel stating that his flight was delayed for operational reasons however it seems as if the damage was done. A great little marketing move from Ryanair and there is a lesson to be learnt for companies which is shown in an exchange like this.

There are advertising opportunities on Twitter, there are marketing opportunities on Twitter and as a company you have to be ready to take those opportunities as they come. Using Twitter for customer service alone is only half the battle, companies need to be taking advantage of the great marketing and advertising opportunities which arise, especially at the expense of a rival which makes it tastier.

About The Author

Mark is the founder of 60 Second Social media where he provides social media news and digital marketing analysis, he is also a proud father of his bearded dragon, Lola. You can follow him on Twitter here. You can also follow 60 Second Social on Twitter here.