In an era when ill-timed or tone-deaf digital brand campaigns are launched just about daily, Malaysia Airlines has set a new low bar for bad taste.
The beleaguered airline, which has lost two planes in recent months in disasters that have claimed 537 lives, on Monday announced a “My Ultimate Bucket List” campaign in which customers were asked to list the things they would like to do before they die.
The airline, which has since changed the name of the promotion, is offering prizes, including free round-trip flights to Malaysia from Australia and New Zealand.
“Malaysia Airlines has withdrawn the title of a competition running in Australia and New Zealand, as it is found to be inappropriate at this point in time,” the airline said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The competition had been earlier approved as it was themed around a common phrase used in both countries. The airline appreciates and respects the sentiments of the public and in no way did it intend to offend any parties.”
The campaign was intended to stanch the bleeding at the airline, which has been struggling in the wake of the recent tragedies: Last week, it announced would cut 6,000 jobs and scale back its route network. This week’s stunt is unlikely to reverse the airline’s fortunes. Quite the contrary.
Customers who booked travel between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31 were asked to tell the airline which destinations were on their so-called bucket list. The most creative answers were to go into a draw to win 12 round-trip, economy-class tickets.
The airline probably should have expected some of the responses that swiftly made the rounds, though.
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
— Roop Raj (@rooprajfox2) September 2, 2014
Brand missteps on social media have become all-too familiar. Another bit of social media marketing that fell flat this same week, for example, did so more for reasons of bad timing than bad taste: A campaign for Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow” had some playful fun with the show’s Headless Horseman villain, including shareable art and the hashtag #headlessday.
The problem? The campaign was launched the same day news broke that kidnapped U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff had been beheaded by ISIS terrorists.
Fox Home Entertainment issued the following apology: “Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment recognizes and apologizes for today’s promotion for the Season One DVD release of Sleepy Hollow. We regret the unfortunate timing of our announcement and our deepest sympathies go out to the families of all involved.”
As Cannes winds down, some marketers say want ‘less pageantry and more substance’ from the festival
But after two-years of pandemic lockdown, pending economic recession and other societal uncertainties, marketers and advertisers at this year’s conference say the answers aren’t coming so easily.
On the French Riviera, ad tech braces for a correction
To survive, much less prosper, ad tech vendors have been redefining and expanding what they do -- while carefully sizing up competitors. But tossing out the smaller fish is easier said than done.
Why esports companies are looking beyond competition as they invest more in live events
Although esports events still center around competitive gaming, they are increasingly becoming professional events as well — rare opportunities for those who work in a largely remote industry to come together and hobnob about their work.
SponsoredFor brands, first-party data is unlocking the cookieless ecosystem
Bill Masterson, President, Publishers Clearing House A dominant factor guiding the industry has been that cookies and mobile app IDs are vanishing and will be replaced by some mixture of new and emergent identity solutions. As a result, the market is alive with new and exciting alternatives to replace the third-party browser cookie and mobile […]
Confessions of an in-house creative strategist on feeling unfulfilled, difficulty in returning to agencies as the ‘pay is less’
In the latest edition of our Confessions series, in which we trade anonymity for candor, we hear from an in-house creative strategist about their experience, why they want to go agency-side now and how pay is keeping them from doing so.
Cannes Briefing: Despite its reputation as a boondoggle, marketers and ad execs return to the festival ‘action-oriented,’ ready to wheel-and-deal
This year's Cannes festival was once again used as a stage to announce all kinds of industry partnerships.