An Italian airline is trying to salvage its image after using an actor in blackface to portray former President Barack Obama in a promotional video.
Alitalia airline issued this apology on Twitter Wednesday:
“Alitalia deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the promotional video on our Washington route. It has since been removed. For our Company, respect for everyone is mandatory, it was never our intention to hurt anyone and we will learn from what has happened.”
The video was posted on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to promote Alitalia’s new route from Rome to Washington, CNN reported.
It sparked immediate criticism, to which the airline initially tried to defend itself against, according to The New York Times.
Alitalia representatives said the actor portraying Obama was not Caucasian and that “makeup was applied to highlight features.”
When that response failed to silence critics, the airline pulled the ad.
Another Twitter user said there’s a larger problem at Alitalia.
“Your corporate culture is nasty,” Roger Bee said. “The point isn’t one incident. The point is that bigotry and fascist nationalism are tolerated by your overall corporate culture. You are animals.”
Activist April Reign, who led an initiative dubbed Oscars So White to increase diversity among award recipients, retweeted the news Thursday.
“This flew under the radar [no pun intended],” she said.
Another Twitter user highlighted a response from Doug Barry, a principal at accounting firm Mazars USA, President Donald Trump’s accountants.
“Who got upset,” Barry asked on Twitter.
The Twitter user who uses the name Brooklyn Watch called the response a “not-so-veiled racist reply.”