Organisers of the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival have been forced to pull an ad for festival partner United Airlines after it induced mass laughter from audiences.
The 30-second spot – which was clearly not intended to be funny – was spruiking the disgraced airline’s business class, which promises “indulgence” and “access to everything”.
In the clip, passengers can be seen reclining comfortably in their chairs, enjoying champagne, gourmet food and excellent service.
The ad is poorly timed after the American company earlier this month sparked global outrage when passenger Dr David Dao was forcibly removed from a flight by aviation officers to make room for the airline’s staff.
The April 9 incident saw Mr Dao dragged off the plane after repeated protestations and left him with a bloodied face and broken teeth – photos of which spread like wildfire online.
The airline subsequently decided that no staff would be terminated as a result of the incident which proved to be a cataclysmic public relations disaster for the carrier.
The United ad first screened on April 19 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall for the annual festival’s opening night where the audience reaction was instant and uproarious, according to onlookers.
The 6000-strong crowd was reportedly silent when the ad first came onto the screen, but quickly lost their composure.
The Hollywood Reporter critic John DeFore said the ad “drew so much derisive laughter it drowned out the next ad entirely”.
One audience member reportedly yelled out: “Too soon!”.
Vox.com journalist Caroline Framke said the ad earned “the biggest laugh at Tribeca’s opening night by a LONG shot”.
According to THR, ensuing screenings of the ad over the next three days elicited similar reactions and by Saturday it had disappeared from festival screens entirely.
It was a reportedly a joint decision from the airline and festival organisers to pull the ad.
A festival spokesperson said the airline remained “a valued partner” of the festival.
Meanwhile, Dr Dao is planning to launch legal action against the company over the ordeal he endured, his attorney has confirmed.