Australian airline Qantas has been forced to issue a grovelling apology after one of its attempts at social media advertising was branded racist.
In a Twitter contest last week, the “four-star” airline offered two tickets to an international rugby match to fans with the best show of support for the national Australian team.
The carrier awarded the prize to two white men who donned blackface – a form of theatrical makeup used to create a stereotyped caricature of a black person – and “afro” wigs in an attempt to “honor” their favorite player, Fiji-born Wallabies flanker Radike Samo.
When the winners made good on a promise to wear their winning costumes to the match in Brisbane on Saturday, Qantas took to twitter to post their excitement.
“Looks like our Twitter winners of the Bledisloe Cup tix lived up to their promise. Good work,” Qantas tweeted.
While Radike Samo said he was not offended by the stunt and even posed in a picture with the ticket winners, Qantas Twitter followers slammed the ‘blacked up’ pictures as ‘appalling’, forcing their hasty removal and the following apology from the airline:
“We understand it caused offense to some people, which is why it was removed. We are really sorry if it has upset anyone.”
But that only served to anger the offended social media users more, as one follower wrote:
“Cut it out with the faux pologies. Say you’re sorry for posting the photo that DID offend people (not if). What that image represents to most people is appalling.”
The airline later issued a longer apology, including one for posting the original photo.
“We apologise the photo of 2 Radike fans offended people. We’ve spoken with Radike and whilst he has no issue with it we have removed the image,” the airline tweeted.