Delta and Coca-Cola Napkin Controversy

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Delta and Coca-Cola Napkin Controversy

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Delta and Coca-Cola recently created what they thought would be a funny and clever marketing campaign that encouraged passengers to shoot their shot with their “plane crush.” When flight attendant’s passed out beverages on recent Delta flights, passengers received napkins that on the front read, “because you are on a plane full of interesting people and hey… you never know.” On the back of the napkin was a space to fill in your name and phone number. Both sides were donned with the “Diet Coke” logo.

Unsurprisingly, Delta passengers had mixed reactions. Some thought the napkins were funny and enjoyed a good laugh. Others however, found this to be creepy and unwelcome. After angry passengers took their frustrations to Twitter, Delta was forced to retract the napkins and issue an apology statement, admitting they had “missed the mark” with this strategy.

I can definitely see both sides of this controversy, but I do think it is MOSTLY harmless. I would imagine 99.9% of people on a flight would just see it and think it is funny. I have a hard time believing that too many people would actually start handing out napkins with their phone number on it. Some complained that unsolicited numbers were unwelcome and that they “don’t want the number of someone who has been gawking at them on a plane for hours.” While I agree, I would still have to think that realistically speaking, most people on a plane feel the same way and would not take this campaign literally. I am curious as to how many people, if any, actually received a name/number from someone using one of these napkins.

The majority of the outrage on social media against the napkins was that it was “creepy,” “awkward,” and “unwelcome.” However, a bigger problem that I am surprised no one brought up, is how this could potentially become a way to lure passengers into sex-trafficking. That is the major con that I thought of for this campaign, as victims and their traffickers commonly fly on commercial airlines. I am shocked that Delta did not think of this, as they have previously created campaigns informing passengers of the common signs of human-trafficking at airports and on flights, encouraging them to report.

I personally would not find these napkins offensive if I were to receive one on a plane. I would take it as a joke and move on, as I feel most people probably would. However, I do think Delta made a good decision to retract the napkins. Aside from people just thinking they are “weird,” there is potential for these napkins to become dangerous. When coming up with an “off the wall” marketing strategy like this, it is important for companies to consider all potential situations that may arise from a campaign, even if they are not immediately evident.


2 Comments

Macy Wilbanks

Macy Wilbanks

February 12, 2019at 3:22 pm

I’m so glad you decided to write about this! It’s always interesting when people are split on whether or not an ad is appropriate. I personally thought it was a clever way to celebrate Valentine’s Day and I think people are reading too much into it! I feel like it isn’t nearly as big of a deal as people made it out to be.

Dalton Rice

Dalton Rice

February 12, 2019at 4:01 pm

I think this is a very interesting topic as many commercials now are becoming controversial and receiving attention on Twitter with people being uncomfortable about certain ads. With this particular ad, I do not see it offending anybody or committing any harm to people on the plane. I d understand if people feel uncomfortable about this marketing campaign, but for people to complain on social media is a bit of a reach for me. Lately, it seems like marketers need to be extra careful nowadays on what they release to the public

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