Did Cathay Pacific really not give an ‘F’ or was it a marketing strategy?

September 21, 2018 - 4:15 PM
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Cathay Pacific Airways shared pictures of their airplane having a spelling error on its body. Some people were quick to speculate that it might be a marketing strategy. (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

A major flag carrier of Hong Kong drew attention for its supposed spelling mistake of their company’s name on the side of an airplane but some people speculated it might be part of a marketing strategy.

Cathay Pacific Airways shared pictures of an airplane having the words “CATHAY PACIIC” painted on its body. The shots originally came from Facebook group “Hong Kong Aviation Discussion Board.”

A spokesperson for the flag carrier explained, “We did not intend to make it a big fuss in the first place, but photos went viral within the aviation enthusiastic groups, so we just shared the hilarious moment with everyone.”

Meanwhile, an engineer from Haeco — a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific — theorized that the spaces between the letters seemed deliberate enough to omit the letter “F.”

“The spacing is too on-point for a mishap. We have stencils. Should be a blank gap in between letters if it was a real mistake, I think,” he shared.

Despite the airline claiming that it was unintentional, some people were not too keen on the error.

How mistakes can boost publicity

Even if it was unintentional in the first place, the error was enough to boost Cathay Pacific’s social media engagement and with it, their overall brand presence.

As of this writing, the post with the pictures has been liked almost 15,000 times and retweeted for more than 5,000 times.

According to Brian Harris, a creative director at advertising agency BaM, the strategy — misdirection — is not new in the industry.

Marketing Land further explains the effect of misdirection to the public. They noted:

“The main goal of content for search marketers is to attract views, links and engagement, and that is sometimes better achieved by not creating content about what you’re trying to sell directly, but instead, by creating something completely unexpected.”

“If done properly, this triggers fascination, which helps our content go viral, and viral content indirectly related to our product is often better than invisible content directly related to it.”

“Today’s SEO is about smart content marketing, using advanced tactics like misdirection to grab attention and spark engagement.”

G2 Crowd chief marketing officer Adrienne Weissman calls the strategy “naked marketing” since the brand is totally transparent with its patrons.

“Naked marketing is simply being totally transparent and exposed with how your customers are talking about you,” she shared.

“Brands that are engaged in naked marketing are thinking about how and why they want to engage with all of their customers,” Weissman added. — Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos; Photo from Cathay Pacific via Twitter