Can You Help with Malaysia Airlines' Marketing Challenge?

Posted Thursday, May 14, 2015 in Marketing by Patricia Seybold

Malaysia Airlines and its passengers suffered two mysterious airplane disasters in 2014 which put the struggling airline in the spotlight. On March 8, 2014, Flight 370 disappeared completely, triggering an unprecedented international search effort. Then, on July 17th, Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine.

The airline has provided a LOT of support to the victims' families, and has received an outpouring of social media support from customers and well-wishers for its #stay strong and #fly high social media campaigns. These were internal marketing campaigns designed to bolster the morale of the 20,000 employees after the second unprecedented (and mysterious) disaster within 4 months. The campaigns went viral.


Stay Strong Marketing Campaign

Malaysia Airline has a new CEO, Christoph Mueller, who is credited with turning Aer Lingus around. This will be the challenge of his career!

Dean Dacko, SVP Marketing, Malaysia AirlinesDean Dacko is the current SVP of marketing for Malaysia Airlines. He feels the troubled government-owned airline shouldn't rebrand. In a mUmBRELLA Asia interview with Robin Hicks on March 23, 2015, Dacko cited two reasons:

"Prior to MH 370, globally Malaysia Airlines' brand awareness was in the low single digits. But after MH370 and MH17 it is 86 percent worldwide. The name is now in the range of Coke and Pepsi. That kind of awareness takes decades and billions of dollars in investment to build. To abandon that, from a commercial marketing perspective, would be a tragically bad mistake to make.

Secondly, millions rallied round the brand and embraced the notion of #Fly High and #Stay Strong. So much so, that if we were to rebrand, we would not be honouring that message, and we would not be leveraging that as a springboard.

And if we rebranded, what would that say about the company? Malaysia Airlines has always been recognised as a premium full-service carrier and a national icon. The Prime Minister has said that this is something that needs to be preserved, as it is part of the fabric of Malaysian culture and society. What makes us good, what is engrained in our character and our culture, is Malaysian hospitality. It's one of the only things that makes us genuinely different as an airline. It's what makes us who we are. And we wouldn't want to disrupt that promise."

Dean Dacko, SVP Marketing, Malaysia. Airlines

So here's the question for you: what do you think? Should they rebrand or #stay strong and #fly high? Please vote:

To read the story of how Malaysia Airlines built a new digital marketing platform just in time to be used in these two disasters, read our Case Study:

Malaysia Airlines: Can Digital Transformation Help the Turnaround?

by Susan Aldrich and Patricia Seybold, May 15, 2015


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