Italian Airline Apologizes For ‘Blackface’ Ad Starring Actor As ‘Barack Obama’
By Mikelle Leow, 08 Jul 2019
Image via Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com
Italian airline Alitalia might be promoting an international flight in a new campaign, but the concept does not look good elsewhere in the world. The company has come under fire for hiring what looks like a Caucasian actor to pretend to be former US president Barack Obama.
The video, created to introduce Alitalia’s nonstop route from Rome to Washington, DC, features a seemingly light-skinned man wearing blackface to portray the African-American president. The campaign also spotlights caricatures of US president Donald Trump, as well as predecessors George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
The commercial has been described by consumers as “racist,” as they remark that Alitalia could have just hired a Black actor rather than putting a man in dark makeup.
The airline previously justified the ad by claiming that the actor was not Caucasian. Telling the New York Times, a spokesperson said that his makeup was simply there to “highlight features.”
However, the company was compelled to take down the ad from its social media channels after criticism from internet users piled up. Taking to Twitter, Alitalia wrote that it “deeply apologizes for the offence caused by the promotional video on our Washington route,” confirming that the video “has since been removed.”
“For our company, respect for everyone is mandatory,” it added. “It was never our intention to hurt anyone and we will learn from what has happened.”
While the official clip is no longer up, you can watch an abridged reupload of the commercial below.
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.— Alitalia (@Alitalia) July 3, 2019
[via CBS News, video via ODN, cover image via Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com]
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