The branded beverage napkins handed out on recent Delta Air Lines flights have left some passengers feeling more than a little uncomfortable. The marketing campaign affiliated with Coca-Cola was intended to encourage passengers to make a connection onboard, but in practice, the suggestions came across as a bit too suggestive.
Delta Air Lines has apologized after an onboard marketing effort upset some passengers on recent flights. The airline distributed Diet Coke-branded beverage napkins on some flights as part of a deal with the Atlanta-based soft drink giant, but flyers say the “edgy” messages on the cocktail napkins, intended to read as flirty instead came across as just plain creepy – especially in the closed confines of a aircraft cabin.
The tongue-in-cheek marketing messages printed on the napkins appear to be reminiscent of other successful marketing campaigns by beer and spirits companies (in those cases, the efforts targeted mostly nightlife locales). Business travelers and families were somewhat less charmed by messages suggesting, “Be a little old school. Write down your number and give it to your plane crush. You never know…” or “Because you’re on a plane full of interesting people and hey… you never know.” In some cases, the paper coasters even provided a fill-in-the-blank space for collecting fellow passengers’ names and numbers.
In the Flyertalk forums, frequent flyers have pointed out that the marketing effort, in all likelihood, belongs in the category of simply out-of-touch, rather than offensive. “The way that respectable people meet and approach their love interests has changed,” davie355 offered. “The designers of this napkin neglected or were ignorant to that sociological shift.”
Other posters were less forgiving of both companies’ astonishing lack of foresight. “Who thought this was a good idea?” Flyertalker Mickidon marveled. ”I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in that meeting. Apology tour underway.”
Public apologies from both Delta and Coke have indeed been forthcoming.
“We rotate Coke products regularly as part of our brand partnership, but missed the mark with this one,” a Delta Air lines official told INSIDER magazine. “We are sorry for that and began removing the napkins from our aircraft in January.”
Coca-Cola later issued a similar mea culpa. “We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended,” the company said in a statement. “We worked with our partners at Delta to begin removing the napkins last month and are replacing them with other designs.”
Were Delta’s flirty beverage napkins just a bit of good-natured fun or downright creepy? Join the the conversation here.