Friday, January 04, 2008

Nepal Publicity?

It’s been all over the Internet already – but I couldn’t resist (since I just ran across this).

As reported by Reuters here, officials at Nepal Airlines sacrificed a pair of goats to help solve a technical problem with one of its Boeing 757-200 aircraft. (The national flag carrier has two of these.) “The snag in the plane has now been fixed and the aircraft has resumed its flights,” according to an airline official quoted by Reuters. No one has revealed the nature of the technical problem.

It’s important to note that Nepal Airlines was propitiating Akash Bhairab, the Hindu sky god, by sacrificing the goats. Because it has been so widely reported as a news oddity, why am I bringing this up now, four months after it was originally reported?

I haven’t seen that the goat sacrifice has had much of an impact on the brand itself. (Well, aside from the reaction from PETA.) On the other hand, it isn’t what you’d call a major brand – not with just two B-757s and seven DeHavilland Twin Otters.

Still, it’s a 50-year-old brand. It deserves some respect. If I had any connection with Nepal whatsoever, I’d pitch in. Why? Because there’s an opportunity to create a cross-cultural experience that has been ignored by the bloggers and the news bureaus.

Think of this, then, as a PR test case. Perhaps the Nepal Airlines people felt that this kind of religious practice is so common that it didn’t deserve notice. But the story’s obviously made its way around the world – and has had a modest but still negative impact on the airline’s reputation.

What would a good PR practitioner do? What would you do (instead of making fun of the Nepalese) to help build the brand with this goat story? Any answers from public relations professionals would be welcome – because, as the airline’s slogan says, “there is no place on this Earth like Nepal” and it deserves a fair shake.

1 comment:

Karen Blanchard, APR said...

This reminds me of the Atlanta, GA drought earlier this year, when the government official turned to the amores of locals by holding a prayer session.

And, of course, it then rained. And, apparently the Nepal airline resolved its mechanical issue without incident (other than the goat sacrifice).

Besides, when in Nepal...