Corporate social media gaffes can range from the blatantly offensive to the unintentionally hilarious. And in the big picture of Twitter faux pas, the tweet by @Delta after the USA-Ghana game definitely isn’t as bad as Justine Sacco’s.
Still, considering Delta flies a number of routes throughout Africa, you’d think the company would avoid sending out Lion King-esque stereotypes on its Twitter account.
The company tweeted this picture after the USA beat Ghana, the team that has been its kryptonite for the last two World Cups:
Here’s the problem: There are most certainly no giraffe in Ghana. The nearest sizable giraffe population is about 2,500 miles away on the opposite side of the continent.
You’d think Delta would know this, considering it advertises its flights to Ghana and has one of the most extensive African networks of any American airline.
Sure this may have been a simple mistake by an overzealous employee, but it does illustrate the real issue of brands and media companies dumbing Africa down to trite stereotypes. (Check out the awesome blog/Twitter account Africa is a Country if you want to see more examples.)
Africa is as diverse as any other continent. It is made up of 54 countries full of people who speak roughly 3,000 languages.
Some of those countries are in bad shape, sure, but many have growing middles classes with much to contribute to the global economy. Take South Africa, Botswana or Ghana, which is often held up as a model African state with a strong commitment to human rights and peaceful democracy.
Despite this reality, I have lost count of the times that people look at me with shock or confusion when I tell them I chose to live for three months in South Africa. Was it safe? Is the government there stable? Are there warlords in charge?
South Africa is not Somalia. Botswana is not South Sudan. Ghana is not the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Yet when Africa is again and again represented by stereotypes, how are Americans supposed to understand that each African country should be judged by its own merits?
Delta, by the way, has since deleted its tweet. The company tweeted out an apology with a typo, deleted that, then apologized again. Not a great Twitter day.
We’re sorry for our choice of photo in our previous tweet. Best of luck to all teams.
— Delta (@Delta) June 17, 2014
Dear @delta: please don’t fire anyone. Best, -c
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) June 17, 2014
I mean, there’s probably a zoo in Ghana with a giraffe.
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) June 17, 2014
“Hey, Steve, did you do that giraffe, tweet?” “Yes, ma’am.” “Well pack your stuff. You’re Ghana.” “HAHAHAHA!” “No really, you’re fired.”
— Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown) June 17, 2014