KLM’s FIFA Real Time Social Media Fail

Did you know that this year’s FIFA World Cup has received over 300 million social media mentions to date, just on Twitter alone? (By comparison, the 2012 London Olympics received 150 million tweets over the same period of time).  The most tweeted-about goal so far was Marcelo’s goal in the opening game between Brazil and Croatia.  The goal generated a staggering 378, 085 tweets per minute.  With the use of social media, more people are allowed real time access to these world events.  This means that events like the World Cup can present great opportunities for branding and outreach for brands both big and small.

At the same time, this also means that any social media blunders can multiply ten folds in its negative impact.  Case in point – KLM had its very own social media fail this week with a tweet sent out from their Twitter account after Netherlands’ 2-1 defeat over Mexico.  For the Dutch carrier, the victory was a great opportunity for the brand to celebrate its heritage and national pride.  If done right, the tweet would have created great positive PR and feedback from its followers.  Instead, the tweet was made at the expense of Mexican fans.  (see more on the story here)  The airline had tweeted an image of an airport departure sign (complete with a moustache, sombrero and serape graphic) accompanied by the message ‘Adios Amigos!’

Considering KLM is a carrier with worldwide routes and client base, the joke was made in poor taste and the carrier received many angry messages from proud Mexicans and others from around the world who were not amused with the tweet and the message it sent.  The tweet even reached actor Gael Garcia Bernal who slammed the airline for its ‘Adios Amigos’ tweet.  The KLM tweet and the actor’s response was retweeted to the actor’s 2 million followers around the world.

The social media blunder is even making headlines around the world!  Mistakes like this would’ve been much easier to contain and control in the past.  However, with social media and Internet making international news so easily accessible, these mistakes are magnified with potential for virality around the world.

Keeping Up with What is Trending

Mexican national carrier Aeroméxico was able to jump in with a classy response.


A search on Twitter this morning for Aeroméxico’s Twitter account showed this:

AeroMexcio KLM

KLM showing up in the search results for Aeroméxico shows just how trending this topic is across Twitter.  It also shows how many social conversations are still taking place on this topic.  Normally, increased mentions is the goal for social media efforts and brand success.  But for KLM this week, brand mentions will mean negative impact. The next steps for KLM will be crucial in rebuilding brand love and currency.

The fall out will continue over time I’m sure, when people are deciding what carriers to fly for their future travels.  Will KLM see significant decrease for their direct flights from Amsterdam and Mexico City?  Time will tell…


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