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Angry phone

How to upset 3,063,456 potential customers with one tweet

Angry phone

How to upset 3,063,456 potential customers with one tweet

The UK’s flag carrier airline British Airways (BA) forgot about the first word in its name on Saturday, when it tweeted in support of the England rugby team, even though the opposition on the day was neighbouring Wales.

BA is sponsor of England Rugby, hence the public support, but its Twitter team failed to take into consideration that it represents the whole of the United Kingdom, and should remain impartial when two of its nations play one another.

The quickly deleted tweet read:

“Good luck to the England rugby team against Wales today.”

It resulted in the sarcastic hashtag #EnglishAirways trending on the social media site, while Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething noted that the tweet could upset more than three million potential flyers.

Meanwhile, Welsh BBC newsreader Huw Edwards responded by expressing his love of BA’s rival airline EasyJet.

Sportingly, BA admitted it had “strayed offside” with the tweet. The airline noted that although it does not serve Wales with its flights, it does employ nearly a thousand people in the nation.

That fact itself was picked up on by another Twitter user, however, who drew attention to news from just six months ago of possible BA job cuts in South Wales, in the context of the airline’s apparent disregard for the country’s rugby team.

It’s not the first time this year that Welsh Twitter users have had to fight their corner against misjudged tweets from large companies, with Snickers being accused of Cymrophobia after running a “Place in Wales or someone sat on a keyboard?” game. Advocates of Welsh independence argue that these are examples of marginalisation, with campaign group YesCymru slamming the UK as a “unequal, broken union”.

All brands, particularly ones with the word “British” in their name, should consider the full range of their target audience, and aim to be inclusive. At Engage Web, we can work with you to address the right and wrong messages to put out, and help you appeal to a target audience without upsetting a wider one.

England won the match 24-13, scoring two tries to Wales’ one, but sadly all British Airways managed to try was Welshmen’s patience.

John Murray
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