Malaysia Airlines’ Bucket List Blues

Malaysia Airlines was forced to rename its travel competition opened to customers in Australia and New Zealand because it was “found to be inappropriate at this point in time,” according to a statement made by the airline on Thursday, Sept 4.

The contest was originally called “My Ultimate Bucket List” and asked contestants to share, in 500 words or less, a place and activity they would like to take off their bucket list before they died. Sixteen winners would be selected by the airline and receive a free iPad or return tickets to Malaysia.

What Malaysia Airlines forgot was its involvement in two of the largest airline tragedies in history. Flight MH370 and its passengers went missing on March 8 and and five months later Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, resulting in 537 lives lost. When the competition was announced online, many began mocking the campaign and the airline for its ill considered marketing attempt to attract travelers.

According to the airline, the term “bucket list” is understood by both Australians and New Zealanders to have the same definition: a list of things you complete before you die. No initial connection was made to the fact that many had died while traveling on the airline.

“The airline appreciates and respects the sentiments of the public and in no way did it intend to offend any parties,” it said.

Malaysia Airlines immediately changed the name as soon as the mistake had been pointed out. It is now called “My Ultimate To-Do List” and will run until the end of the year. This just goes to show how important something like a focus group or even just a second opinion is to avoid gaffes.

Do you think Malaysia Airlines had the appropriate response to its blunder? What should it do to avoid another mistake like this in the future?

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1 Response to Malaysia Airlines’ Bucket List Blues

  1. Sophia Mayberry says:

    I swear it’s like some of these companies are trying to further justify why we take PR Research at the Cronkite School. This entire disaster (arguably the last thing Malaysia Airlines needed right now) could have been avoided with a focus group. A tiny bit of research could have prevented this whole disaster. Although I have a hard time believing no one at Malaysia Airlines caught this at the start. It seems so obviously wrong. What should they do in the future: RESEARCH!

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