Malaysia Airlines head of marketing Dean Dacko to depart



Dean Dacko, the global head of marketing at Malaysia Airlines, is leaving the company.

The Canadian will bring to an end three years with the troubled airline when he leaves his post as senior vice president of marketing at the end of the month.

Dacko told Mumbrella that he is currently exploring several options and will confirm his intentions in the next few weeks.

His departure comes eight months after the arrival of a new CEO, German Christophe Mueller, who has instigated a major shake-up of the airline.

A replacement for Dacko has yet to be confirmed.

In an interview with Mumbrella in March, Dacko said that the airline, which suffered two major disasters in the space of four months last year, would not be changing its name or brand identity to move the company on from the MH17 and MH370 tragedies.

To do so would be “tragically bad mistake to make,” Dacko said partly because of the high levels of awareness that the brand now has in the wake of the air disasters.

“Prior to MH370, globally Malaysia Airlines’ brand awareness was in the low single digits. But after MH370 and MH17 it is 86 per cent 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,” he said.

But it emerged recently that the carrier will be going ahead with a complete brand overhaul.

Malaysia Airlines has appointed ad agency M&C Saatchi Malaysia and brand consultancy Prophet to handle what will be one of the most challenging briefs in Asian marketing – to create a new name, logo and advertising campaign to reintroduce the airline to the world.

Under Dacko’s watch, Malaysia Airlines responded to MH370 going missing on 8 March by first giving a directive to take down every MAS ad globally.

MAS’ marketing team then used its network of 22 country websites and social media to help the airline gauge how it should respond to information requests from people around the world, as well as to figure out when and where it could start advertising again to, according to Dacko, re-start the company’s commercial engine.

#StayStrongAfter MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, Malaysia Airlines used the words #StayStrong to send a supportive message to staff, which went viral.

“People were posting back to us, saying yes, Malaysia Airlines, stay strong, you didn’t deserve this,” Dacko said.

With MH370, the company went from advertising blackout to recovery in seven weeks. With MH17, the process took seven days, Dacko explained in the interview.

Malaysia Airlines’ response the disasters in the weeks that followed fielded criticism from some quarters. The company was forced to withdraw a promotion that used the phrase ‘bucket list’ to entice customers back to the airline.

Dacko told Mumbrella: “It’s not an excuse. But the reality was that, any word we published would be reacted to in some way. The bucket list was a promo designed months before MH370 and MH17 and was never meant to be advertised that way. We did not get a single customer who said it was a problem. It was the media that suggested it was an issue.”

The news comes the week after debris from the MH370 jet was found in the Indian Ocean.


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