‘People you travel with’ – a ’12 marketing pitch. Malaysia Airlines

The ancient adage goes “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.” I looked into the marketing strategies of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) over the past two weeks. This month’s tragedy, regardless of location and status of MAS Flight 370, has touched the lives of two hundred thirty nine individuals. The lost Boeing airplane has captivated cable news channels and audiences since the early morning hours it vanished. The human – and world – hope is for life but surely this has damaged and disrupted families in the very least of descriptions.

A 2012 campaign, commercial of Malaysia Airlines titled “journeys are made by the people you travel with” is both powerful and persuasive. I have included the in this post. Everyone in the ad is carrying luggage. The ad will no doubt be one of the most creative you have seen lately! All sorts of people (all ethnic backgrounds represented) with suitcases, large and small, where ever they are. Birthday parties, bowling allies (while bowling), and yes, swimming pools (yes, while swimming!). This is one smart ad campaign, please take a look.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMLsCZsnHRM

“We believe that life is a journey, and we are all travelers” are remarkable words and can serve as international sentiments. With the visual aids of actual luggage at the heart of the message for MAS, those with hearing impairments will completely understand the marketing message. MAS kept it simple but striking to the viewer. Authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath in their best-selling book, Made to Stick (2007), would have advised a similar strategy to the global company. The ad is professional and emotional, with world-wide, cross-continent cultures and implications (Heath, 2007). “Journeys” is highly memorable and exceptionally long-lasting in its impact (Heath, 2007).

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Do you believe this theme and ad would work for local airline carriers and partners across the United States? Think of the business routes, trips between Texas cities and the West Coast. Reflecting on perhaps, the hundreds of thousands of commuters between eastern seaboard hubs of Boston, DC, Philadelphia and NYC? Would this be effective advertising to both businessperson and a private sector company?

Reference

Heath, C. & Heath, D. (2007). Made to stick: why some ideas die and others survive. Random House.

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7 Responses to ‘People you travel with’ – a ’12 marketing pitch. Malaysia Airlines

  1. Sandra Colton says:

    Pete,
    I watched the ad and the whole time the voice in my head, notably my mom, was screaming, “Travel light!” and “Why do these people have so much baggage?” I guess it’s the practical person in me that was thinking this and I understood that they were sending out the message that we all carry luggage and it’s the people that make the journey special. I just think that it probably wouldn’t work with the same style locally. Baggage may or may not be the best selling point for travel in the U.S. When I see a suitcase I think, bag fee and should I carry it on or put it underneath, how will I get it to the airport and how much time will it take to get me through security if I take a big bag or small bag. Too many details so it probably wouldn’t work on me as an ad in the states, but maybe it would work on others.
    -Sandra

  2. Pete LuPiba says:

    Sandra:
    Superb review! Your note of “when I see a suitcase I think, bag fee” is relevant to both the regional (commuters) business routes element and international travel context. Furthermore, the stated question, “why do these people have so much baggage?” – and the analysis within it is crucial to the Heath parallel and overall strategy. Thank you for posting – and adding to the discussion!
    Keep on writin’ — pete

  3. Christa says:

    Wow. What an inspiring and symbolic campaign. I think all 6 principles are clearly there (especially emotion) and in just about 30 seconds (of the 2 minute ad) it has STUCK in my brain and in my heart.
    I cannot stop thinking about those people, their families and now how the airline (and it’s alliance company – One World) is going to handle this tragedy/crisis for the company. I think about who those people were flying with, why they were flying that day and the best possible outcome. Where were they in their journey? I really hope MAS can provide the world with some details soon and do so with some serious compassion.

  4. Kara Seward says:

    Pete,

    Great post. Your questions are intriguing – creating an IMC for business class travelers. There are elements of the MAS campaign that could be translated well to appeal to the business traveler, but they all relate to coming home, not the journey (dad coming home with suitcase, picking mom up at the airport, etc.). The MAS campaign is uniquely suited to the casual air traveler who is traveling for pleasure.

    On a more amusing note, your questions immediately made me think of this scene from Up in the Air.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDgFAFQGZbI

    Thanks, again for the thoughtful, timely post.

    Kara

    • Erika White says:

      Like Kara, I got to thinking about the business traveler in exploring this campaign. Business travel an be both a lonley but invigorating thing. For some busy executives, a long plane ride is one of the more peaceful times they could have in the average day. So, I think the emphasis on companionship here may not sit as well with the highly connected business traveler looking to leave it all behind on their brief and frequent journeys…

    • Erika White says:

      Like Kara, I got to thinking about the business traveler in exploring this campaign. Business travel an be both a lonely but invigorating thing. For some busy executives, a long plane ride is one of the more peaceful times they could have in the average day. So, I think the emphasis on companionship here may not sit as well with the highly connected business traveler looking to leave it all behind on their brief and frequent journeys…

  5. Jennifer says:

    Hi Pete,

    Creative and interesting post. I also thought the addition of the commercial link was also a nice touch and the commercial made me reflect on the missing MAS Flight 370. Overall, I thought the commercial was very touching, easy to understand and influential-all key characteristics of the book by Heath & Heath- Made to Stick (2007). It had great appeal and was transferable through all cultures because of the simplicity-they seemed to cover the bases and individuals could relate to at least one situation presented in the commercial.

    In regards to this campaign working here in the states, I would have to say that I don’t know how well the luggage icon would work (similar to what Sandra said above). The first thing that came to my mind is the $25 fee for the first checked in bag and how my friend, who travels for a living, scolded me and said I should have carried on the luggage-checking it in prior to boarding. Other friends boast about how they get around the luggage fee when they take long trips. This has become a growing topic and upon doing a little search I found that all but two airlines charge for the first checked in bag (FareCompare, 2014). This gets pretty pricey for a family of five, such as mine, who had to pay an additional $250 for our trip to Hawaii a few years back. From a business perspective, when I travel alone, I don’t really want to socialize I enjoy the serenity of the alone time and think it’s courteous for the others travelers who want the peace and quiet. So overall, from my perspective I would say the campaign may not be as effect her in the states.

    Reference:
    FareCompare (2014). Worldwide baggage fee chart. Retrieved from: http://www.farecompare.com/about/worldwide-baggage-fee-chart/