‘Sexist’ safety video helps build airline brand

A few airlines have started thinking out of the box when developing their brands. Over the last couple of years Virgin and Air New Zealand have gained a reputation for creating innovative safety videos that go viral and build positive brand reputation.

You can see some of the videos in this earlier blog post. Combined, these safety videos have generated over 30 million views, more than 100,000 Likes and tens of thousands of comments, most of them positive. With such consumer generated power who needs a 30 second TV commercial?

Recently Air New Zealand created a new safety video, this time using cabin crew, Cook Island residents and some rather attractive Sports Illustrated swimwear models. The models show how to put on a seat belt, use an oxygen mask, inflate a life vest and leave the plane in an emergency. All done not on a plane but on a beach or by the pool in the Cook Islands.

All very clever and innovative. Unfortunately an Australian was offended by the ad, calling it sexist, irresponsible, offensive and insensitive to religious sensibilities. She bagan a petition online and soon had over 10,000 signatures, forcing Air New Zealand to pull the video and disable the comments section on Youtube, despite getting more than 11,000 Likes and less than 1,100 Dislikes.

To date the video has generated more than six million views on Youtube and quite a few of them me!. That’s more views than all of Air New Zealand’s previous safety videos combined.

Branding: Taking the mundane and making it interesting

One of the hardest jobs for any brand is to stay relevant and interesting. This is especially true of airlines who seem to spend their marketing dollars on glossy videos featuring pretty stewardesses, cute kids and modern aircraft.

And when it comes to such activities as safety videos, most airlines opt for the tried and tested formula of the pretty stewardess going through the motions of seat belt, exits, life jacket and so on. A quick look around any flight just before take off will show that few travellers are paying attention.

It was refreshing therefore for me to see that Air New Zealand has really thought out of the box with its latest safety video by teaming up with Eton educated ex SAS officer Bear Grylls to create a unique and captivating safety video. The pretty stewardess and cute kids are still there but I’m sure you’ll agree the rest of the cast is unusual!