In celebration of its new service to Washington Dulles, Alitalia commissioned an ad campaign featuring actors portraying famous U.S. politicians. But the Italian flag carrier made a critical faux pax.
The series of Italian ads appeared only on social media and featured actors portraying U.S. presidents like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.
But one ad caught the attention of many views, the one featuring former President Obama. There, a Tunisian actor played the ex-President. To better resembled Obama, dark foundation was applied, his nose was enlarged and his mouth and lips were modified. Viewers expressed outrage, condemning the ad as insensitive at best and racist at worst.
Initially, Alitalia defended itself, dismissing one outraged comment on Facebook with the following:
You are exaggerating…the actor we cast is not Caucasian, we used the makeup to change his facial features, not his skin colour.
But as the outrage mounted, Alitalia pulled the ad and issued the following apology:
Alitalia deeply apologises for the offense caused by the promotional video on our new Washington route. It has since been removed from all of our social media channels. For our Company, respect for everyone is mandatory, it was never our intention to hurt anyone and we will learn from what has happened.
And Alitalia appears to have done a good job at scrubbing it, because I cannot find it anywhere.
I’d call the Alitalia an honest mistake, but it probably should have known better after all the other blackface issues this year (Gucci, Prada, H&M). I wish we could actually watch the ad…I’m curious how Alitalia poked fun at Obama and Trump…
Have you found a link to these now censored ads? If so, please share a link in the comments section below.
images: screenshots from Alitalia Ad