Someone -- no, make that several someones -- at beleaguered Malaysia Airlines must have simply lost their sensitivity to sensibility, for there is no other way to explain the rollout of an "Ultimate Bucket List" marketing campaign for an airlines that has suffered one missing jet and a second jet shot down within the last six months. But that is exactly what has happened. Not only did someone entertain, develop, and float the idea, but several someones in upper levels of management had to okay the abrasively obtuse marketing ploy. And it had the company scrambling to fix a disaster of another kind as incredulous outrage met the promotion.
The Guardian reported Sept. 3 that Malaysia Airlines, trying their best to recoup lost ticket sales following the air disasters earlier in the year where Flight MH370 disappeared without a trace and MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, had put together a contest in Australia and New Zealand called "My Ultimate Bucket List." Participants were urged to tell the airlines their ultimate destinations, the most creative answers to be chosen for prizes that included twelve economy-class round-trip tickets to Malaysia.
For those unaccustomed to the term "bucket list," it is slang for a list of acts and destinations a person wishes to perform and visit before they die. The contest "My Ultimate Bucket List" produced an outcry from many who deemed it inappropriate in light of the airline's recent history. Between the two horrific incidents involving the company's jets, 537 people had been killed.
The company pulled the decidedly offensive contest name Wednesday. "Malaysia Airlines has withdrawn the title of a competition running in Australia and New Zealand, as it is found to be inappropriate at this point in time," the airline said in a statement Wednesday.
The new name for the contest? "Win an iPad or Malaysia Airlines flight to Malaysia."
The airline was already in financial straits prior to the two air disasters, but the incidents have had an adverse effect on ticket sales.
Flight MH370 disappeared somewhere over the southern Indian Ocean in early March. It had started its flight to Beijing, China, from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but dropped off of radar over the South China Sea. Investigators were later able to piece together the flight path MH370 took, an odd journey that ultimately saw the Boeing 777 jet hundreds of miles off course. Although the largest search-and-rescue operation in history was mounted (and is ongoing) and conspiracy theories abound concerning the plane's whereabouts and what may have happened, no trace of the plane has been found. All 239 passengers and crew members are believed to have perished.
Flight MH17 disintegrated in mid-air over the contested border between Ukraine and Russia in mid-July. It was quickly revealed that it had been shot down, although those responsible for doing so remains a matter of conjecture and opinion. The Russians and pro-Russian separatist forces claim the Ukrainian government shot the jet down, while the Ukrainian government, using intelligence data provided by the United States, claims that the separatists, using a missile system supplied by the Russian Army, brought down the Boeing. The plane had been traveling from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to Kuala Lumpur. There were no survivors among the 298 passengers and crewmen.