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.
— Royal Dutch Airlines (@KLM) August 5, 2017
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”:
Gay here. This is… Not great @KLM.
— Mitchy (@thenewneuge) August 8, 2017
Time to fire your ad agency because the only seat belts that work are the original ones. #irony
— Robert (@RRangel4JC) August 8, 2017
Me trying to figure out how this picture makes sense pic.twitter.com/VT7X20UMsv
— Ryan (@ryaanshaw) August 8, 2017
Unfortunately, there were also a lot of anti-LGBTQ voices gloating and claiming victory:
— Deplorable Chug ? (@Maggie_the_Chug) August 8, 2017
Actually it does matter who you "click" with. Some don't match up for a reason. Stop trying to force your agenda down people's throats.
— SimplyChristine❤️ (@Realchristine4) August 8, 2017
This agenda driven adv actually explains it exactly. F2F=doesn't fit, M2M=Doesn't Fit, M2F=Fits perfectly. Complemenarity is great!
— Refute FrMartin (@RefuteFrMartin) August 8, 2017
Thanks for proving our point. Man and woman only works best. #GodsLoveWins
— #LiveFreeOrDie (@Java_penguin) August 8, 2017
Some even got kind of gross about it:
In a crash, I hope all LGBT use the seat belts designated for their comfort zone. Remember, you're voicing your pride!
— (((PaulCruz))) (@paulbaja) August 8, 2017
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.”)
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.