Malaysia Airlines is having the worst year in its history. The UK Daily Mail reported on Sept. 3 that Malaysia Airlines had opened up a contest on Monday to Australian and New Zealand residents that ultimately created significant backlash for the airline. It was a marketing ploy gone terribly wrong. The airline had hoped to win back customers after the aftermath of two incidents which involved two lost airplanes and the death of 537 people; the events of which have considerably affected the airline’s finances. The company wanted to have a seemingly harmless contest and the idea might have flown had it been promoted through an airline that hadn’t seen such tragedies. It seems that having contestants write in about what they would like to do before they die was in purely bad taste.
Malaysia Airlines had launched a campaign called, the “My Ultimate Bucket List,” last Monday which asked customers of Australia and New Zealand to write a 500-word response to the following question: “What and where would you like to tick off on your bucket list, and explain why?” Contestants would have entered for chances to win a free ticket to Malaysia or a 16GB iPad.
Lisa Visentin of the Sydney Morning Herald wrote, “Often associated with the terminally ill, a "bucket list" refers to the places one wants to visit or the experiences one wishes to have before they die.” Despite the phrase being approved on the basis that it was in commonplace usage in both Australia New Zealand, it’s no wonder why people would be in arms about the term being used.
Unfortunately for Malaysia Airlines, the Bucket List Contest added to the negativity surrounding the airline. People began speaking up on Twitter with mockery which would prove to be even more detrimental to the airline. One person on Twitter tweeted: “The number one thing most Malaysia Airlines customers want to do before they die? Land.”
In recent news, the airline had lost two planes, one of which has been missing since March (and whose passengers are assumed to be dead) and the other of which was shot down over the Ukraine in July.
The airline quickly realized its mistake and consequently has “scrubbed” the former wording of the contest details from every page of their website. The airline has also posted a public apology. The company has reworded the campaign to be less insensitive and offensive. According to Reuters, while the contest is still being offered, contestants are now asked to describe the destinations and activities on their “to-do” list. The contest also is being offered with “less fanfare.”