Cute or Offensive? KLM Airlines’ Pride Ad Generates Controversy on Twitter

While in the United States, June is Pride Month, different countries have their own schedules. For example, tomorrow is when Amsterdam celebrates Pride. In honor of that, KLM, the Royal Dutch Airlines, shared a special pride ad on Twitter.

The slogan “It doesn’t matter who you click with” appears alongside an image of three rainbow-colored seatbelts. One with two buckles, One with two tongues, and one of one tongue, one buckle.

KLM intended this as a cute representation of different relationships. Unfortunately, since only the “straight”pairing actually “works” in the literal sense, Twitter users started dragging the airline right away.

Some objected to the implication that queer relationships don’t “work”:

Unfortunately, there were also a lot of anti-LGBTQ voices gloating and claiming victory:

Some even got kind of gross about it:

Should people be dragging KLM as hard as they have been? We’re torn — the ad’s a cute idea (if not necessarily original), but the execution is lacking.

We’re certain KLM didn’t mean to imply that straight relationships are the only ones that “work.” But this shows the importance of choosing metaphors carefully. As Sparks once said, “A metaphor is a glorious thing: A diamond ring; the first day of summer.” Though, perhaps KLM could learn from one of the later lines in the song: “Use them wisely, use them well, and you’ll never know the hell of loneliness.” (Loneliness in this instance being defined as “being mocked on the internet.”)

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Still, we hope this doesn’t discourage other brands from celebrating Pride. Some ads have been very well done, like the Honey Maid “Wholesome” campaign from 2014:

KLM definitely tried and though it seems like a bit of a tempest in a teapot — there’s real homophobia to fight — hopefully they’ll have learned from this, and next year’s Pride ad will knock it out of the park.