The Italian airline Alitalia has apologised for an advert it ran featuring a man dressed in blackface portraying Barack Obama.
The airline was using online videos in order to advertise flights from Italy to Washington, featuring actors portraying US presidents Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Donald Trump, and Obama, reports the New York Post.
The video was posted to its Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, but has since been removed from all of its social channels, after a barrage of complaints, reports CNN.
The Obama-playing actor, who was of Italian and Tunisian descent, was covered in black and brown paint, and his nose was enlarged as well as his mouth and lips being changed for the video.
Originally, the airline defended the video. Speaking to the New York Times they said that the makeup had been applied to the actor's face in order to highlight his existing features, however, in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday, they apologised, saying it wasn't their intention to offend anyone with the advertisement.
In a tweet, they said:
Alitalia deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the promotional video on our Washington route.
It has since been removed. For our Company, respect for everyone is mandatory, it was never our intention to hurt anyone and we will learn from what has happened.
The controversy is the latest in a string of incidents that have got large brands into hot water and have seen them accused of 'racism'.
In February, Italian fashion house Gucci apologised after social media users criticised it for promoting a sweater that looked like it resembled blackface because of its design.
In December 2018, Prada also withdrew products from its Pradamalia line, after images showed some of its merchandise depicting monkey-like figures with black faces and large red lips, reports CNN.