Delta And Coke Go Creepy On Cocktail Napkins

With all the attention on inappropriate and disturbing actions over the past few years, large corporations have become much more cautious on messaging.  That’s what makes a report from yesterday a bit disturbing.  Thanks to Mike P for bringing this to my attention.

Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola teamed up on some pretty creepy cocktail napkins recently, as evidenced by this Tweet:

The napkins included text such as, “be a little old school, write down your number & give it to your plane crush, you never know….”

USA Today has quote from Delta that seems to indicate they know they missed the mark on this one:

“We rotate Coke products regularly as part of our brand partnership, but missed the mark with this one,” Delta Air Lines said in the statement to USA TODAY. “We are sorry for that and began removing the napkins from our aircraft in January.”

Coca Cola echoed the sentiments with its own statement:

“We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended. We worked with our partners at Delta to begin removing the napkins last month and are replacing them with other designs.”

The Final Two Pennies

This one falls clearly under “know your audience”.  I’m a pretty sarcastic and irreverent sort of guy.  I could see an instance where I would make this joke like this amongst friends.  But, I just can’t imagine being comfortable with broadcasting this message to my customers.  As a business person, I frequently come across instances where I need to approve or collaborate on marketing materials.  10 or 20 years ago, racy comments like that were much more commonplace.  Back then, I could have seen something like that getting approved as a marketing message.  Today, not so much.  It’s good to see Delta and Coke quickly react on this, but it’s a bit of a head scratcher that these napkins made it all the way to planes before someone questioned the outcome.

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10 Comments

  1. I feel that this is a case of people being overly sensitive. To me it came across as a lighthearted nostalgic thing to print. Many of us “older people” can remember giving and getting phone numbers written on cocktail napkins all the time. Even if it was unsolicited and I wasn’t interested, I was flattered. And at the end of the day, I don’t even think that Delta or Coke actually expected anyone to use them for this purpose. It was just a fun ad campaign. Time for people to relax.

      1. I’m still trying to figure out how on earth anything on that napkin could be interpreted as “racy”? It’s a joke about giving someone your phone number. I don’t see anything even remotely controversial about that. What specific text on that napkin is controversial?

      2. Ed, see my note below. You have this correct as far as the bigger picture. Not everyone is as laid back as those who made comments that they had no issues with the napkins. With the stress of air travel, coupled with the touchiness of anything to do with a possible violation of the MeToo movement, Coke could have thought this out a bit better.

  2. Totally absurd confected row. The only people who could possibly be offended by this will be exactly the people who are flaunting themselves over online dating apps. It’s sad that today it is not permitted to have a sense of humor – and sadder still that the people who are writing these rules are not democratically accountable.

  3. I don’t see these napkins as really “creepy”, but they strike me as pretty tone deaf considering the current zeitgeist.

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