Following criticism on social media, Malaysia Airlines has renamed its “Bucket List” campaign. In a statement to Bloomberg Businessweek, the airline said it has stopped the “inappropriate” campaign in New Zealand and Australia. The campaign titled “My Ultimate Bucket List” initially launched in these markets on 1 September.
“The competition had been earlier approved as it was themed around a common phrase that is used in both countries,” Malaysia Airlines said in its statement.
“The airline appreciates and respects the sentiments of the public and in no way did it intend to offend any parties.”
Here is what a Twitter user said:
Malaysia Airlines "My Ultimate Bucket List", cause if there r things to do before you die, MA is the best way to fly pic.twitter.com/nDejYoEHlo
— Rob Stanley (@rjastanley) September 2, 2014
Advertising + Marketing has also reached out to MAS for a statement.
Aviation marketers Advertising + Marketing spoke to were split on their views of the campaign. In an off the record conversation, one ex-aviation marketer said the list entire campaign was done in bad taste.
“The aviation industry is a very serious business and safety of passengers is so paramount that you can’t even joke about it. This campaign is completely not savory,” he said. While taking off the campaign was the right move, the negative impact of even launching the campaign will stick around for a while.
Such a move just highlights a possible break in internal communication, he explained. The brand really needs to question what consumer confidence it is now instilling. He added that it takes years to build a positive brand image and minutes for it to be torn down.
“When you hit rock bottom like MAS has, shouldn’t you repair your brand image? The entire move reflects that there needs to be an alignment in the company’s internal communication teams and different divisions need to tighten the screw caps and come together as one at this point,” he added.
He added that as an ex-aviation marketer, he understands the importance of getting commercial activity moving and the need to continue marketing initiatives. But surely, he added, there’s a more subtle way to do so than this campaign as the world is still grasping with the tragedies.
Meanwhile, another marketer said that while the campaign was poorly executed, language barrier could have been the reason behind the miscommunication. He added that while some consumers might see the term coming from the initial idiom “Kick the bucket” others just think of it as a light fun way to spruce up their life. Nonetheless given the recent problems faced by the brand, it is understandable why there was an uproar over the contest, he said.
“Personally for me, bucket list doesn’t seem negative or I don’t instantly associate it with ‘kick the bucket’ – it’s just a fun way to tick off things on my list. Sure they could have been a little bit more sensitive but every brand makes mistakes once in a while,” he said.