Malaysia Airlines marketing boss: We now have brand awareness to match Coke and Pepsi, why would we rebrand?

Malaysia AirlinesThe head of marketing for Malaysia Airlines has said that a rebrand and renaming of the troubled airline would have been a “tragically bad mistake to make” in the wake the MH370 and MH17 disasters, partly because of the high levels of awareness that the brand now has.

In an extensive interview with Mumbrella at the Festival of Media Asia yesterday evening, Dean Dacko, the airline’s head of marketing said that prior to the disappearance of the MH370 jet in March 2014, Malaysia Airlines’ brand awareness was “in the low single digits”. But after the double disaster, brand awareness of MAS has risen to 86 per cent worldwide.

After the MH17 tragedy, speculation mounted that Malaysia Airlines would change its name and completely rethink its brand.



“Name recognition 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.

He added that, since so many people have rallied around the brand and embraced the campaign solidarity messages of ‘Fly High’ and ‘Stay Strong’ in the wake of the catastrophes, the airline “would not be honouring that message… and leveraging that as a springboard” if it had rebranded.

Dacko conceded that the airline has a lot of work to do to regain lost trust.

“We need to tell people more about what we’re doing to move forward,” he said.

“We need to continue to show how committed we are as a brand. Time will slowly help us restore confidence and trust. But we have to do more, faster – from a marketing perspective – to support that message.”

“This won’t be about cheap flights to Bali. It will be about images and content that remind people that we’re still strong and healthy, and we’re moving forward,” he said.

The Canadian, who is just over two and a half years into a two-year plus one contract with the airline, said that the company faces budget constraints given financial difficulties and an ongoing corporate restructure.

“You won’t ever meet a marketing guy ever who tells you he has what he needs. In our case, this is magnified to a greater degree,” he said.

“The company’s finances were not in good shape before MH370 or MH17, and are not better since. None of our competitors have anywhere near the same degree of challenge that we have, and our financial resources are nowhere near what we need. So we’re trying to be as creative and as efficient as possible.”

Malaysia Airlines agencies include Ogilvy & Mather, which handles creative, IPG Mediabrands, which handles media, and social media agency Rally.

On the task ahead, Dacko said: “The key thing for us is not to take that trust for granted, and be 100 per cent consistent with what we’re doing. We could negate any progress we’ve made if we’re not authentic. Authenticity is the guiding proposition for us.”


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