The ‘My Ultimate Bucket List’ free flight giveaway was offered to customers in Australia and New Zealand, but the campaign turned into a disastrous public relations move for an airline that is desperately trying to revive its image. Malaysia Airlines’ ill-conceived contest asked customers who had already booked flights to submit an entry and, in 500 characters or less, explain which destinations are on their bucket list for a chance to win one of 12 economy class return tickets to Malaysia or an iPad. It said: ‘What and where would you like to tick off on your bucket list, and explain why?’ The state-owned airline has pulled references of ‘My Ultimate Bucket List’ off its website, with links now directing to error pages. The contest still exists but it is now asking customers to describe their ‘ultimate to-do list’.
In a statement provided to MailOnline Travel, the airline confirmed it has altered the contest’s name and it did not intend to offend anyone.
It said: ‘Malaysia Airlines has withdrawn the title of a recent competition running in Australia and New Zealand, as it is found to be inappropriate at this point in time.’
‘The competition had been earlier approved as it was themed around a common phrase that is 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 initiative of the competition is designed to inspire and encourage travellers to dream, plan and book their next holiday with Malaysia Airlines.’
People were quick to criticise the airline for its word choice.
Twitter user Neil Cotton wrote: ‘Malaysia Airlines calls their new promotion “My Ultimate Bucket List” – SERIOUSLY! U know what that means, right?’
A user named M. Gaston said: ‘This is a sick, sick joke, right?! Marketing/PR needs to be fired.’
Mike Chin wrote: ‘Can there be a worst competition name than Malaysia Airlines (MAS)’s “My Ultimate Bucket List” competition’. [sic]
In addition to giving away free flights, the cash-strapped airline has slashed prices on certain routes after being hit by plunging ticket sales following the tragedies. Photos posted on social media have shown nearly empty cabins on some flights.
The rebranding comes as the company continues to reel from the dual effect of losing two aircraft this year – the disappearance of MH370 and the crash of MH17 in eastern Ukraine.
“Nothing less will be required in order to revive our national airline to be profitable as a commercial entity and to serve its function as a critical national development entity.”
Before this year’s disasters, the carrier’s financial performance was among the worst in the industry, putting a question mark over its future.