Agency + Industry / social-media

Airline Companies Cause Controversy About World Cup All Over Twitter

Airline companies have taken the fierce World Cup competition off the field and onto social media. They soon found out that their social media mishaps would cause rage all around the world and affect their companies greatly.

It all started off when Delta Airlines tweeted, “Congrats to team #USA” accompanied with an overlay of the score above stock images of the Statue of Liberty and a giraffe. Delta soon after deleted the tweet after many twitter users pointed out that Ghana is not home of giraffes.

Delta received a lot of backlash for its tweet including a tweet from Yahoo’s Graham Watson saying, “Sorry Delta, not all African countries feature all of the animals you get to see at the zoo.” Many also tweeted about how they were never going to use Delta again because they felt the tweet was racist. Delta posted an apologetic tweet saying, “Were sorry for our choice of photo in our previous tweet. Best of luck to all teams.” The damage was already done, now it was up to their public relations professionals to assist in managing the issue.

The other controversy that came very shortly after the Delta debacle was Royal Dutch Airline’s tweet about Mexico, which one-upped the Delta mess.

Royal Dutch Airline tweeted after the Netherland’s win over Mexico, saying, “Adios Amigos #NEDMEX” along with a picture of a departure sign with a man sporting a large mustache, sombrero, and bandana around his neck. The tweet was up for only 25 minutes before it was deleted, but it was enough time for the world to see.

The tweet spiraled out of control, influential people such as actor, Gabriel Garcia Bernal tweeted he would never fly with Royal Dutch Airlines again. Bernal has over two million followers on Twitter. Royal Dutch Airlines responded to these tweets by saying, “It has not been our intent to hurt anyone’s feelings with this tweet,” but they had already upset the third largest country in the American continent along with thousands of other customers.

Air Mexico tweeted in response to the scandal saying, “Gracias por este gran Campeonato, estamos orgulloso y los esperamos en casa.” In English this means, “Thank you for this great championship, we are proud and waiting at home.”

No doubt the public relations professionals at these companies had to work overtime to help contain and correct  these preventable faux pas.  And as most public relations pros know, it’s much easier to prevent a crisis than to try and “fix” it and repair a damaged image. That can take years if ever.

Written by Summer Intern, Audrey Villemure