Marijane Funess September 5, 2014 | 03:55:43
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What’s In A (PR) Name? Think Wisely What To Call A Campaign

Given what it’s been through, it’s easy to understand why Malaysia Airlines would be looking for a little positive PR. Recently that took the form of what was no doubt meant as a “feel-good” campaign built around reward travel. Also understandable is the urge to jump on a word that’s trending.

So, maybe the PR team thought the “My Ultimate Bucket List Campaign” an essay contest where entrants can win a trip to a destination on their bucket list, was right up there with the “Ice Bucket Challenge.” A natural.

Not so fast. A “bucket list,” of course, is what we plan to do before dying, and given the airline’s calamitous year, the new campaign was quickly and resoundingly criticized. The airline has since apologized. (It’s also rebranding, which is probably a good idea.) There are some lessons here around witty and clever names for any PR campaign.

Timing is everything. Marketers can work for weeks or months on a campaign, but news events can give terms new meaning. That’s why a promotion that could have been clever – a show called “Sleepy Hollow” promoting its DVD with a series of “headless” memes – had to be scrapped when it launched the day of the brutal execution of an American journalist. Sometimes there’s a reluctance to quash a campaign over a sudden event that no one could have foreseen, but, in reputation terms, it’s better to cancel early than to apologize later.

Can it trend without being too trendy? As quickly as we see a hot topic rise in Google searches or on Twitter, it will fall. Don’t pin a campaign on a word that will be over before it has a chance to trend.

Make it meaningful. This should go without saying. The campaign’s name should say exactly what it aims to do without making the intended audience work too hard to “get it.” It’s not a good idea to fall in love with a meaningless moniker just because it will read great in a press release or headline.

Make it visual. How many memes, posts, videos and Instagram pix have you clicked on today? When christening a campaign, it’s best to think about how the title can be depicted visually. Sometimes, a visual is all that’s needed. Look at the recent Volkswagen ad touting its “park assist” feature, beautifully illustrated by a prickly hedgehog between plastic bags of goldfish.

Are you offending anyone? Surprisingly, it happens often.  A “Woman-proof” car campaign from the UK did its share of shackle-raising without many people even viewing it. However, for those who subscribe to the “any PR is good PR” school (Spirit Air, are you listening?)  please ignore the above, and we wish you all the best!

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