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Airlines cut advertising during MH370 crisis; ad revenue dives

The Star/Asia News Network--The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370, despite receiving a lot of attention worldwide and boosting the audience for the mass media, has however had an adverse impact on advertising revenue.

MH370, which was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members, departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12:41 a.m. on March 8 and disappeared from radar screens within a couple of hours later while over the South China Sea. It was to have landed in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. that same day.

This incident almost immediately resulted in ads being cut or reduced and campaigns being either pulled out or put on hold.

“Almost all airline advertisers put their ads on hold, including MAS, Firefly, Singapore Airlines, AirAsia and Malindo. Most of them resumed their ads after a week, except for MAS,” says a source from a local Chinese daily.

“Some retained the frequency of advertising after the postponement, but some reduced.”

He adds that some campaigns that were supposed to be held during that period were either cancelled or postponed, such as the case with fast-food giant McDonald's Malaysia, which was supposed to kick-off its “National Breakfast Day” promotion on March 17.

In a statement on its Malaysian Facebook page, McDonald's Malaysia said it had decided to postpone the campaign in light of “developments surround Flight MH370.”

“This decision is made as a mark of respect for those affected by this event, and we also extend our hope and prayers for the safety and well-being of the passengers and cabin crew involved.

“We sincerely regret any inconvenience caused due to this postponement. Rest assured that we will announce the new date of the National Breakfast Day at a more suitable time.”

The fast-food giant added, however, that promotions would continue as planned in other countries across Asia-Pacific.

The source adds that some advertisers also moved their ads to the back-half of the main section of the newspaper to avoid the “negative editorial environment.”

“This resulted in losses in premium page surcharges,” he says.

Star Publications (M) Bhd. chief advertising officer Lim Bee Leng confirms that ad spend was affected following the disappearance of flight MH370.

“We saw seven-digits worth of ad spend being pulled from aviation and travel-related companies,” she says, adding however that ad support has since picked up.

“When news broke that the plane had disappeared, some companies pulled out ads in a sign of respect for the family and

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