PRecious in Marketing Interactive: No Stain on Jewel Changi

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Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker claimed that the design was copied and implied that Jewel was just a glorified ‘shopping mall'.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker claimed that the design was copied and implied that Jewel was just a glorified ‘shopping mall'.

Lars Voedisch, Founder and Managing Director of PRecious Communications was featured in Marketing Interactive’s ‘Analysis News’ section on November 7, 2019, in an article titled “No stain on Jewel Changi despite copying accusation, say industry players”. 

The architectural marvel was put under scrutiny by the ever-controversial Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker. He claimed that the design was copied and implied that Jewel was just a glorified ‘shopping mall’. Surprisingly, the sentiment around the Jewel was still positive or neutral. Some even called Al Baker’s words a PR stunt for Qatar’s Hamad International Airport. 

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker claimed that the design was copied and implied that Jewel was just a glorified ‘shopping mall.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker claimed that the design was copied and implied that Jewel was just a glorified ‘shopping mall’.

Here is Lars’ Comment as Featured in Marketing Magazine’s Article ‘No stain on Jewel Changi despite copying accusation, say industry players’

“Having this claim out there and circulated by credible media certainly raises eyebrows. But Jewel Changi has already “won” the race by being the first to the market, and speaking about its success to the press.” 

“Changi Airport Group’s CEO statement is factual, and takes the ‘high road’. Not acknowledging the allegations made is a good approach.”

“By not providing any further attack surface for the Qatar side, CAG takes the wind out of the whole debate.”

Why are we talking about this?

The question of who copied who is not the important issue here. Jewel was inaugurated before the expansion of Hamad International Airport’s expansion was finished. Once that happened, the question of copying goes out of the window. In today’s fast-paced world, creativity without execution is like a car without fuel: it will never get you anywhere. 

The words of Akbar Al Baker might indeed be true, or it might be a PR stunt. If it was, in fact, a PR stunt, it completely backfired. Why? Because although such PR stunts can be successful, their success depends on two factors which may have been overlooked. Al Baker is notorious for being controversial. When that happens, claims such as this lose some credibility. This is a classic case of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. Another issue with this stunt was what he addressed. Similar iconic landmarks are common around the world. Hong Kong has a Times Square just like New York, but that does not make it less fascinating than the ‘original’. Whether a landmark was copied is hardly something people care about when they visit. Every landmark brings about its own experience.

PR is a delicate activity which requires utmost care. The response to such stunts should be carefully anticipated. It is pointless if you cannot get the right reaction to what you say, as personified by this situation.

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