When your brand is mostly known for high-profile incidents resulting in hundreds of deaths, your promotional efforts should probably shy away from anything involving one’s final wishes.
Malaysia Airlines, which has suffered two major crashes in the past year, didn’t follow that thinking.
It launched a promotion called the “My Ultimate Bucket List” promotion Monday in Australia and New Zealand. The sweepstakes asked entrants to tell the airline “What and where would you like to tick off on your bucket list?”
The question led to responses such as these:
This is a sick, sick joke, right?! Malaysia Airlines hosts “Bucket List Contest”: http://t.co/DUddHNjRoI. Marketing/PR needs to be fired.
— M. Gaston (@MAHidalgo) September 2, 2014
Today in marketing fails: Malaysia Airlines running a “Bucket List Challenge” and giving away free trips. Too soon? I’d say so.
— Marshall Osborne (@MarshallOsborne) September 3, 2014
— Rich Leigh (@RichLeighPR) September 3, 2014
A bucket list is traditionally a list of things someone wants to do before he or she “kicks the bucket.”
The prizes in the sweepstakes are iPads and free economy flight tickets.
The Guardian reported Wednesday that the contest has been renamed “Win an iPad or Malaysia Airlines flight to Malaysia.” Not as catchy, but probably more appropriate.
In a statement, the airline explained, “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 crashes of Malaysia airlines flights MH370, which vanished in March, and MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine in July, resulted in a reported 537 deaths total.
Last month, Malaysia’s state investment company announced a plan to take over the airline and do a “complete overhaul” of its operations.