Delta social media giraffe gaffe offers reminder for rest of World Cup
As far as learning and recovering, unforced errors are most useful at the start of the game. The ability to recover from a potential systems or process oversight is much easier to overcome if the team has an early visibility of the issue.
This applies to the World Cup in more ways than just teamwork on the pitch.
Delta Airlines had the first highly visible error in the increasingly lucrative – and high stakes – real-time marketing game. The World Cup is a frenzy of brands trying to capitalize on in-the-moment marketing messaging, and one is bound to slip.
This one, taken at face value, is a more innocuous mistake. Upon further analysis – and social media fervor – the innocent and/or ignorant correlation of giraffes to all countries in Africa is inappropriate. The airline tweeted a photo showing the final score of the game with the Statue of Liberty representing USA and a giraffe on the plain for Ghana.
We won’t repost here, but as expected, the Internet went crazy. Things were exacerbated by the not-so-insignificant fact that Delta is an airline and should have a better handle on the realities of the various destinations served system-wide.
It also didn’t help that a Twitter user discovered the source of the image – the Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya. Definitely not Ghana.
Social media managers – and those executives responsible for managing them – must be hyper aware of cultural insensitivities and bias during global events such as these. Test all assumptions, research thoroughly and have several sets of eyes (and brains) look over each post prior to publication.
Off-the-cuff or quick content creation is not always prudent in these cases, and while the benefits in real-time marketing come from being first in the social stream, first movers always have the most risk. Set up a system to vet content, and consider pre-populating many images for different outcomes – that way the media has been already approved and the relevant piece can be pushed live.
Important: be sure it is actually the “relevant” piece and not another type of embarrassing accident, such as the inadvertent publication of false news. And if an error is made, make sure at least a few reliable proofreaders are available. It’s vital to respond to mistakes quickly – and accurately.
And most definitely not like this:
Tnooz was in Atlanta for a Delta event and re-opening of the Flight Museum, and by all accounts there are some embarrassed folk around when asked about the tweet, assuring us that company systems were being reviewed.
The official response is as follows:
Last night, we posted a congratulatory message on Twitter and Facebook to the U.S. Soccer team on its win in a World Cup game. The message used an image of a giraffe to represent Ghana. The image was both inaccurate and inappropriate.
As a global airline, we understand the role images play in shaping global perceptions. We also recognize our responsibility to create messages that are both accurate and inclusive. We take this responsibility seriously.
Yesterday, we failed to meet this responsibility. For this, we sincerely apologize.
We have removed the image and are reviewing our processes to ensure that future images and posts reflect both our values and our global focus.
Nick Vivion was a reporter (and later also global events lead) for Tnooz between August 2012 and July 2015. He was the launch co-founder of Booty's, a global street food restaurant in New Orleans and now is AVP Operations, North America at Zomato.