Virgin America safety video raises the bar for airline Brand content

In my previous post I gave 10 reasons why you should use video to build your brand. You can read that post here

But there needs to be a creative element to those videos. Looking at the airline business, far too many carriers believe the bulk of their marketing dollars should be spent on well produced but hugely irritating glossy videos featuring pretty stewardesses, cute kids and seats that look further apart than they are on any plane I’ve ever flown.

A case in point is Thai Airways. In 2010, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, the carrier released a well produced video that gnaws at the heartstrings but does little new to differentiate it from competitors.

The video has generated a respectable 150,000 views since its launch in 2010 but only 400 likes which would suggest it has made very little impact.

There are some though that are doing their best to move away from this predictable and instantly forgetable approach. Most recently, Virgin America and Air New Zealand have approached the safety video from a new direction.

Instead of the oft ignored stewardess standing self consciously in the aisle and demonstrating how to use a seat belt, where are the exits, how to put on a life jacket and what to do when the oxygen mask drops, these airlines have gone to great expense with a refreshing approach to the tried and tested.

Earlier this week, on the 29th October 2013, Virgin America launched an airline safety video that it claims is the first safety video set entirely to music. They are probably right and the result is impressive.

Obviously I’m not the only one to think so as the video has already been viewed by more than 700,000 people in just two days. What I like about the Virgin video is that they are keeping the story live by inviting dancers to audition for future versions.

Potential participants must send an Instagram video to a specially set up safety dance battle website. Some of those Instagram videos, that can only be up to 15 seconds long will then no doubt take on a life of their own, thereby continuing the Virgin America narrative. So far, the video has over 13,500 Likes on YouTube.

Earlier this year Air New Zealand teamed 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!

To date, the Air New Zealand video has garnered more than 277,000 views on Youtube. Not bad for an inflight safety video!

I did a quick search of Youtube to see what Asian airlines are doing on Youtube. Cathay Pacific has created a lot of content some of which has generated a lot of views. Last year they did a ‘Day in the Life’ feature with flight attendants, pilots and ground crew.

This video of a day in the life of Grace, a flight attendant has a respectable 200,000 views but not too many likes.

Malaysia Airlines YouTube page suggests the carrier is creating a lot of video content but judging by the numbers of views it isn’t compelling enough for consumers to engage with, Like and share. However, when they do get creative, or rather innovative interest in the brand goes through the roof, as shown by this flashmob video that has generated over 1,100,000 views in just under 2 years.

Unfortunately this project appears to be tactical rather than part of a strategic initiative because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere or be integrated with any other activities.

According to Cisco, 90% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2017. These Asian carriers need to start producing content that is interesting and relevant. And that content needs to be part of a planned, strategic story that resonates with target markets in order for those markets to engage with and share across the ecosystem. Otherwise it becomes just another piece of expensive content that is out there, rarely viewed and therefore ineffective.