It’s a given that 2014 has been a very bad year for Malaysia Airlines. Just about as bad as it can get in the airline industry. In two separate incidents – the crash of flight MH17 in Ukraine and the disappearance of flight MH370 – 510 passengers lost their lives.
In addition to the tragic human loss, the company is now riddled with financial losses that began even before the ML370 “crash” in March. Of course the two tragedies caused an even larger snowball effect as the company is currently faced with insurance payouts, lost planes and crews and a not surprisingly decline in bookings (in the 2nd quarter, average weekly bookings declined 33%).
But heck, thank God they have a marketing and social media team to take passengers’ minds off of things as well as to take the brand to new heights. Right?
Well…not so much.
Just last week, the social media team for Malaysia Airlines had to apologize after sending a very bizarre tweet that was an attempt to promote last-minute holiday travel deals. There’s no need for further set up – here’s the post:
“Want to go somewhere, but don’t know where? Our Year-End Specials might just help.”
Oh dear. Probably not the best slogan if only 8 months ago, you lost a plane that just disappeared without a trace. Well, one could chalk it up to a possible loss in translation I suppose. But that certainly doesn’t explain another big faux pas that occurred just in September.
Brilliantly trying to devise ways to inspire and incentivize consumers, the marketing department created a dialogue and contest where it asked folks what types of things and destinations are on their “bucket list.”
Oh yes they did. Not as obviously offensive as the most recent Tweet, but this one is pretty inappropriate too.
I am going to take the high road and blame it on another poor translation. But if that is the case, I would strongly advise Malaysia Airlines, and all global brands, to ensure that they use only native speakers as community managers for their social media channels. I know doing so can be costly, but it can greatly help to reduce these types of incidents from happening.
However, this still wouldn’t necessarily get rid of careless and poorly thought out marketing strategies, would it?
What do you think?