LGBT Marketing Fail: Dutch Airline Image Undercuts Gay Acceptance Messaging

On Saturday, Royal Dutch Airlines posted a photo on Twitter encouraging acceptance of LGBT people. Hilariously, however, the image had the opposite effect — showing that only one combination worked.


“It doesn’t matter who you click with. Happy #PrideAmsterdam,” Royal Dutch Airlines tweeted on Saturday, to celebrate the Amsterdam pride parade. The image in the tweet subverted that messaging, however.

The basic problem with the image — showing airline seatbelt buckles in rainbow-flag colors — was that the gay and lesbian options — two “male” ends and two “female” ends facing one another — would not work as buckles.

Rick Canton, an outspoken supporter of Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie, powerfully mocked the image. “Fly Royal Dutch Airlines, where your only chance of surviving a crash is buckling up the heterosexual way,” Canton quipped.

Napp Nazworth, politics and opinion editor at The Christian Post, also pointed out the problem. “Um? Only one of those three actually click together, which matters a lot if you want your seat belt to work,” Nazworth tweeted.

Jesse L, a self-described “Old School Presbyterian,” asked Royal Dutch Airlines if this image was creating a new policy for the airline. “How many of those seatbelt combinations do you permit passengers to use when the fasten seatbelt sign comes on?” he mockingly asked.


While the airline’s basic message was clear — they will serve every passenger, no matter their sexual orientation — the execution left a great deal to be desired.

Indeed, the image seemed to suggest that only the heterosexual option “works.” Ironically, this might give the subtle message (which is biologically accurate) that only heterosexual sex will “work” to produce children, and it is therefore superior in at least that way.

While at least one Twitter user defended Royal Dutch Airlines, telling the company to “please ignore the haters,” such marketing campaigns are fair game for criticism, and the image just did not work for what the airline was trying to convey.

Airlines should serve everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. But does that really matter at 36,000 feet? Best to worry about whether the buckles work, more than whether the passenger in first class is interested in guys or gals.

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