Just the Facts, Ma’am

truth in advertising


This week, we learned that the beleaguered Malaysian Airlines recently tried to lure customers back after the tragedies of MH17 and MH370. With a contest! Free tickets and iPads for whoever gives the best answer to: “What and where would you like to tick off on your bucket list?”

Ah, bucket lists. You’ve probably heard of them, but for the immortals out there it’s defined by Merriam-Webster as a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying. Like ride a camel. Read Proust. Get a job that pays more than minimum wage. We all have dreams.

And we all, it seems, have bucket lists. Even 9 year-olds! Like the girl in Arizona whose “bucket list” included firing an Uzi. Which she did, at Last Stop Bullets and Burgers shooting range, where the girl lost control of the weapon and shot her instructor in the head. “This was something high on her bucket list to do,” said the manager of the Arizona gun range, defending the girl’s parents’ decision to make her dream a reality.

Hold on here. Aren’t bucket lists supposed to be made around the time you begin to sense your own mortality? When you realize you’re probably nearer to the end than the beginning? When did Americans start making “bucket lists” before reaching double digits?

Either way, we weren’t going to be outdone by a 9 year-old. So we started making our own bucket list so we could enter that contest! But as soon as we hauled out our homemade Google gadget to find out where Malaysian Airlines might take us, the contest was pulled — after thoughtful reporters pointed out that, considering the staggering 537 deaths on Malaysian Airlines flights this year, “asking prospective passengers to think up a bucket list before accepting a free ticket on one of its planes might be construed as macabre.”

To say the least. So Malaysian Airlines is coming under fire for an ad campaign that morbidly reminds everyone that life is short. But what if they were just saying what everyone was already thinking? Who gets on a Malaysian Airlines flight now and doesn’t think about death? And, if we’re being frank, we’re all taking our lives into our own hands whenever we get on a plane, cross a busy street, or offer to teach a 9 year-old how to shoot an automatic weapon. It’s a dangerous world! Why deny it? Why punish Malaysian Airlines for being honest?

Advertising is too deceptive anyway. Let’s embrace a little honesty. That got us thinking: What if other ad campaigns did the same, and subtly said out loud what the rest of us were thinking? What would those ads be? What do YOU think?


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