Sources indicate that it was a joint decision to pull the ad, which was to precede all screenings. “United is a valued partner of the Tribeca Film Festival and we are grateful for their continued support of our filmmakers and the arts,” says Tribeca’s Tammie Rosen.
The fallout from United Airlines’ forcible removal of passenger David Dao on April 9 has spread to the Tribeca Film Festival. A United Airlines 30-second spot — advertising its Polaris Business Class — had been running before film screenings (United serves as one of the fest’s Signature Partners) but has since been pulled following a wave of comical reactions from audiences.
On opening night, April 19, prior to the world premiere unveiling of the Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives, the spot “touting United Airlines’ pampering of passengers drew so much derisive laughter it drowned out the next ad entirely,” writes THR critic John DeFore. Others note that it played like a parody. Festival attendees confirmed that similar reactions plagued other screenings — both public and industry — where the spot was shown over the next two days. By Friday evening, April 21, the spots had mostly been pulled and by Saturday the spots were gone completely. “I wonder who thought that was a good idea,” sniffed one attendee.
“United is a valued partner of the Tribeca Film Festival and we are grateful for their continued support of our filmmakers and the arts,” relays Tribeca Film Festival spokesperson Tammie Rosen.
It is understood that it was a joint decision between United and Tribeca to remove the spot, and United remains integral to the festival landscape as the airline helps get all the filmmakers to New York for the event.
Meanwhile, United has been dealing with the public relations nightmare ever since passenger Dao was removed from a flight by Chicago aviation police officers to make room for United Airlines staffers. The video of him being dragged off the plane by his arms and with blood streaming down his face, went viral and has led to an internal review of corporate policies. Dao, confirmed by his attorney, is set to file a lawsuit imminently.