3 Things Wrong with KLM’s ‘Is It Racist?’ World Cup Tweet


You’ve almost certainly read more than enough about Dutch airline KLM’s now-deleted tweet following its home country’s dramatic win over Mexico in the World Cup–and its subsequent apology “to those who feel offended.”

Twitter outrage, etc. We’ll leave the “is it really racist or just a sign of a culture given to indignation” debate to other blogs and the people who comment on them, but we do think KLM should have seen this coming.

Here are three very obvious things wrong with the tweet.

1. Sore winner syndrome

National pride is great and all, but everyone knows that you can’t belittle the loser if you don’t want to make yourself look bad–especially if the audience you serve is international. Why not joke about the game itself rather than the national identity of the team that your team beat?

Someone will be a drunk ass about it, but if you run a global business then you’d almost certainly rather that person not be you. Otherwise the euphoria will have a downside.

2. KLM had plenty of time to think about this

Someone designed this image well before the game ended, and someone else approved it. Observers can complain about political correctness all they want, but KLM’s team determined that the risk was worth it. You make your bed, etc.

3. No one actually wears sombreros in private company

Imagine if, say, the game had gone the other way and a top Mexican business had tweeted an image of a white guy with dreadlocks sitting in a coffeeshop. Most Dutch people would not have been very happy, and they would have been even more irritated by a “sure, we’ll delete it, but we still won the game” apology.

At any rate, you have to appreciate this response from Aero Mexico. It’s exactly the sort of “thanks for playing a great game” sentiment you would have seen on KLM’s feed if The Netherlands hadn’t come out on top.