Italian airline Alitalia apologizes for Obama blackface video

An Italian airline is trying to fly through some heavy public relations turbulence.

After posting a promotional video — which was created to tout its new Washington route — featuring an alleged Tunisian actor donning blackface to resemble former president Barack Obama, Alitatlia has apologized for the politically incorrect blunder.

The airline then removed the video after numerous complaints, reported CNN.

Darkening makeup was applied to the unidentified actor to make his complexion similar to Obama’s, reported The Telegraph.

“Alitalia deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the promotional video on our new Washington route,” the airline said in a statement. “It has since been removed from all of our social media channels. It was never our intention to hurt anyone and we will learn from what has happened.”

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Barack Obama with members of Britain's royal family
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Barack Obama with members of Britain's royal family
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 22: In this handout provided by The White House, President Barack Obama, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and First Lady Michelle Obama talks with Prince George at Kensington Palace on April 22, 2016 in London, England. The President and his wife are currently on a brief visit to the UK where they attended lunch with HM Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle and later dinner with Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace. Mr Obama visited 10 Downing Street this afternoon and held a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron where he stated his case for the UK to remain inside the European Union. (Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama and Britain's Queen Elizabeth attend a State Banquet in Buckingham Palace in London May 24, 2011. Obama was treated to royal pomp at Buckingham Palace Tuesday on a two-day state visit aimed at ensuring the United States and Britain keep the "special" in their relationship. REUTERS/Lewis Whyld/PA Wire/Pool (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS ROYALS)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 29: Former U.S. President Barack Obama and Prince Harry on day 7 of the Invictus Games 2017 on September 29, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation )
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 22: In this handout provided by The White House, President Barack Obama, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and First Lady Michelle Obama talks with Prince George at Kensington Palace on April 22, 2016 in London, England. The President and his wife are currently on a brief visit to the UK where they attended lunch with HM Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle and later dinner with Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace. Mr Obama visited 10 Downing Street this afternoon and held a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron where he stated his case for the UK to remain inside the European Union. (Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh stand with the President and First Lady of the United States Barack Obama and his wife Michelle (both centre), in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle ahead of a private lunch hosted by the Queen in Windsor, Britain, April 22, 2016. REUTERS/John Stillwell/Pool
LONDON - MAY 24: President of the United States Barack Obama speaks to Prince Charles, Prince of Wales as they leave Winfield House, the official residence of the US Ambassador on May 24, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage)
U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama pose with Britain's Prince William, his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, upon arrival for dinner at Kensington Palace in London, Britain April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File photo
Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip welcome U.S President Barrack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on their arrival at Windsor Castle for a private lunch, in Windsor, Britain, April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Jack Hill/Pool
Britain's Prince Harry (R) and former U.S. President Barack Obama converse as they watch a wheelchair basketball event with former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) and his wife Jill Biden at the Invictus Games in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, September 29, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 22: In this handout provided by The White House, President Barack Obama talks with the Prince William, Duke of Cambridge as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge plays with Prince George as First Lady Michelle Obama talks with Prince Henry at Kensington Palace on April 22, 2016 in London, England. The President and his wife are currently on a brief visit to the UK where they attended lunch with HM Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle and later dinner with Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace. Mr Obama visited 10 Downing Street this afternoon and held a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron where he stated his case for the UK to remain inside the European Union.(Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24: Queen Elizabeth II and U.S. President Barack Obama (R) pose in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace ahead of a State Banquet on May 24, 2011 in London, England. The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, and his wife Michelle are in the UK for a two day State Visit at the invitation of HM Queen Elizabeth II. During the trip they will attend a state banquet at Buckingham Palace and the President will address both houses of parliament at Westminster Hall. (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are greeted by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh upon their arrival for lunch at Windsor Castle in Windsor, Britain April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Britain's Prince Harry and former U.S. President Barack Obama pose with an athlete as they watch a wheelchair basketball event during the Invictus Games in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 29, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
US President Barack Obama (L) and his wife Michelle (R) meet Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (2nd L) and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (2nd R) during an audience at Buckingham Palace in central London, on April 1, 2009. US President Barack Obama visited Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday while his in London for the G20 summit. Obama and wife Michelle were hosted by the queen for a meeting, the day before the crunch summit on tackling the world economic crisis. AFP PHOTO/John Stillwell/WPA POOL (Photo credit should read JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales smiles with President of the United States of America Barack Obama in the Oval Office on the third day of a visit to the United States on March 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Prince and Duchess are in Washington as part of a Four day visit to the United States. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barrack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive for dinner at Kensington Palace with Britain's Prince William, his wife Kate and Prince Harry in London, Britain, April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25: Queen Elizabeth II signs the guest book as she bids farewell to U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and First Lady Michelle Obama, watched by the Duke of Edinburgh (2nd R) at Winfield House - the residence of the Ambassador of the United States of America, in Regent's Park, on May 25, 2011 in London, England. The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle are in the UK for a two day State Visit at the invitation of HM Queen Elizabeth II. Last night they attended a state banquet at Buckingham Palace and today's events include talks at Downing Street and the President will address both houses of Parliament at Westminster Hall. (Photo by Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama visit Kensington Palace for dinner with Britain's Prince William, his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry in London, Britain April 22, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Crowley/Pool
U.S. President Barack Obama (C) prepares to review British troops with Prince Phillip (R), Duke of Edinburgh, during an official arrival ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London May 24, 2011. REUTERS/Larry Downing (BRITAIN - Tags: ROYALS POLITICS)
LONDON APRIL 1: US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama pose for photographs with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh during an audience at Buckingham Palace on April 1, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
12/8/14- The White House Washington DC President Barack Obama welcomes Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, for a meeting in the Oval Office, photo: Christy Bowe - ImageCatcher News (Photo by Christy Bowe/Corbis via Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama tour the Queen?s Gallery with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, at Buckingham Palace in London May 24, 2011. REUTERS/Larry Downing (BRITAIN - Tags: ROYALS POLITICS)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24: US President Barack Obama (L) and First Lady Michelle Obama (R) meet with Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace on May 24, 2011 in London, England. The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, and his wife Michelle are in the UK for a two day State Visit at the invitation of HM Queen Elizabeth II. During the trip they will attend a state banquet at Buckingham Palace and the President will address both houses of parliament at Westminster Hall. (Photo by Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama looks on as Britain's Queen Elizabeth II holds on her hat as the wind blows during an official arrival ceremony on the Buckingham Palace Terrace stairs in London May 24, 2011. REUTERS/Larry Downing (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS ROYALS)
OUISTREHAM, FRANCE - JUNE 06: (UK OUT FOR 28 DAYS) U.S. President Barack Obama greets Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall as they attend a Ceremony to Commemorate D-Day 70 on Sword Beach during D-Day 70 Commemorations on June 6, 2014 in Ouistreham, France. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25: (L-R) U.S. President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive at Winfield House, the residence of the Ambassador of the United States of America, in Regent's Park, on May 25, 2011 in London, England. The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle are in the UK for a two day State Visit at the invitation of HM Queen Elizabeth II. Last night they attended a state banquet at Buckingham Palace and today's events include talks at Downing Street and the President will address both houses of Parliament at Westminster Hall. (Photo by Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) speaks with Britain's Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, at Buckingham Palace, in central London, on May 24, 2011. US President Barack Obama Tuesday basked in the lavish royal pageantry of a state visit to Britain, given an extra dash of glamour by a brief encounter with Prince William and his bride Catherine. But the 24-hour demands that follow a US president everywhere shadowed the London pomp, as Obama took time out to say he was 'heartbroken' at the toll of vicious tornados which ripped across the US midwest, killing 116 people. AFP PHOTO / CHARLES DHARAPAK/POOL (Photo credit should read CHARLES DHARAPAK/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON - MAY 24: (L-R) Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, US President Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburhg attend a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace on May 24, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Rota/Anwar Hussein/Getty Images) *
U.S. President Barack Obama talks to Britain's Prince Harry (L) during a meeting at the Oval Office at the White House in Washington October 28, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
US President Barack Obama (L) and his wife Michelle (2nd L) meet with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (2nd R) and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (R) during an audience at Buckingham Palace in London, on April 1, 2009. US President Barack Obama visited Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday while his in London for the G20 summit. Obama and wife Michelle were hosted by the queen for a meeting, the day before the crunch summit on tackling the world economic crisis. AFP PHOTO/John Stillwell/WPA POOL (Photo credit should read JOHN STILLWELL/AFP/Getty Images)
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama, meet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Obama welcomed Prince William for his first visit to the White House to thank the Duke of Cambridge for the British royal family's hospitality during presidential visits to the U.K. and to underscore 'the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom,' the White House said in announcing the visit. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Prince William; Barack Obama (Photo by Andrew Harrer/WHITE HOUSE POOL (ISP POOL IMAGES)/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales smiles with President of the United States of America Barack Obama in the Oval Office on the third day of a visit to the United States on March 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Prince and Duchess are in Washington as part of a Four day visit to the United States. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
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The practice of blackface originated in 19th-century minstrel shows in America as well as Europe.

Backlash against Alitalia was swift and brutal.

"How could you have been so stupid? wrote Luca Maurantonio on the airline’s Facebook page. “Which genius is your communications director? I’m really speechless. This is 2019 and you are still peddling these stereotypes.”

An incredulous Kate La Malfa wrote, “Guys, are you joking?” Which communications agency are you using?”

One Twitter user was even more sarcastic, writing, “When your social media/marketing team has no idea about the state of the world today. And the award goes to . . . @Alitalia.”

The airline isn’t the only Italian-based company to be slammed for suspected racist imagery. In February, fashion house Gucci discontinued a sweater design that many people thought resembled blackface. And last December, Prada withdrew products from its Pradamalia line after some merchandise appeared to depict monkeylike figures with big, red lips and black faces.

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