What was meant to be a joke has turned into a PR blunder for Dutch airline KLM after it angered Mexican soccer fans by taking to Twitter to celebrate the Netherlands’ dramatic comeback victory in the World Cup.
Within minutes of the Netherlands’ 2-1 victory over Mexico, KLM let loose on its Twitter feed a picture of an airport departures sign under the heading “Adios Amigos!” Next to the word “Departures” was the image of a man with a mustache wearing a sombrero.
The post immediately went viral with widespread protest and was pulled a half-hour later. And KLM issued a formal apology late Sunday.
“In the best of sportsmanship, we offer our heartfelt apologies to those who have been offended by the comment,” said Marnix Fruitema, director general of KLM in North America.
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A-list Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal told his 2 million-plus followers that he’ll never fly KLM again.
“It was meant to be a joke,” KLM spokeswoman Lisette Ebeling Koning said, adding that the airline never intended to offend Mexicans, which it serves via a daily direct flight between Mexico City and Amsterdam. “But there was too much negative reaction.”
For its part, Mexican national carrier AeroMexico, broadcast on Twitter its support for the country’s soccer team under an airport arrivals sign, like KLM’s ill-fated illustration.
“Thank you for this great championship,” AeroMexico said. “You’ve made us proud and we’re waiting for you at home.”