RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – 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 the Tri, KLM let loose on its Twitter feed a picture of an airport departures sign under the heading “Adios Amigos!” Next to the word “Departures” is the image of a man with a moustache wearing a sombrero.
The post immediately went viral, with A-list Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal using not one but two expletives in a 140-character Tweet to tell his 2 million-plus followers that he’ll never fly the carrier again. Amid the widespread protest online, the post was pulled a half-hour later without an explanation.
“It was meant to be a joke,” KLM spokeswoman Lisette Ebeling Koning told The Associated Press, 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.”
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.
For its part, Mexican national carrier AeroMexico is also getting in on the fun, broadcasting on Twitter its support for the country’s soccer team under an arrivals sign.
“Thank you for this great championship,” AeroMexico said.
“You’ve made us proud and we’re waiting for you at home.”