Workplace Communicator Blog

Can Air New Zealand make Safety Sexy?

Posted by Marie-Claire Ross on Mon, Feb 17, 2014

Recently, Air New Zealand launched its new inflight safety video in collaboration with Sports Illustrated, the swimsuit franchise.

Now, if you also think that's weird, the safety video is also used as an opportunity to sell....the Cook Islands.

So let's see, you've got a safety training video that is effectively selling three products:

  1. Attractive Sports Illustrated Models
  2. The Cook Islands
  3. Inflight safety.

One of the golden rules in advertising is that you can't be all things to all people.  So of course, only one of those messages wins.  Which one is it?

Poking Fun at Safety

For many years, Air New Zealand has been a leader in producing funny inflight safety videos.  And let's face it, knowing how to put on a safety belt, reach oxygen and sit in the brace position is not rocket science.  Once you've seen one flight attendant do their little front of house stage show, you've seen them all.  However, due to safety regulations, we all need to be reminded.

Air New Zealand has successfully made safety information not only enjoyable to watch, but you still learn from it.  This point really is the key because so many advertising agencies come in and make safety funny, but the whole safety meaning gets lost.  In the end, no-one remembers the safety messages.  A good example is Dumb Ways to Die.

In November, I flew Air New Zealand to get to San Francisco.  I have to say that it was my best flight ever.  The food was amazing and the staff wonderful.  I even enjoyed the Betty White safety training video.  Sure the jokes were a bit croaky, particularly after the fourth time I saw it, but I got the message.


But with this new inflight safety video titled: Safety in Paradise, I'm lost.  I'm so glad I know inflight safety protocol because I'm too distracted to learn anything or remember.

For a start, no plane is used to show the inflight safety training.  I have no problem with that because in the Betty White video, I felt that this was done successfully.  However, seeing a snorkling mask being put under a beach chair to represent storing your items under the chair in front of you, is just a little too conceptual for me.

Then there are the pretty girls making cute faces and poses to camera.  That's nice on a Sports Illustrated video, but really conflicting on a safety training video.  I'm a female and I'm not listening to a word they say.  All I see is the beach and a talking bikini.  So if I can't focus on a message, how can a man?  Especially, a teenage boy for that matter. 

Of course, there is also the issue, that it is incredibly sexist.  Personally, I would have preferred some hot young men to have been frolicking about, as well, to balance it out a bit.  But then, wait a minute, that's not a safety training video, that's a Sports Illustrated video with models living an aspirational lifestyle!  

While Air New Zealand acknowledges that they did pre-test the ad with females, I find it disappointing that it seems more geared for a male audience.  After all, women are around 51% of their target market.

Other issues include the music is too loud (can't hear what they say), the inflight safety metaphors too vague and the Cook Islands sales pitch confusing.  It's really hard to think safety when you're being sold a holiday to the Cook Islands and eye candy.  It smacks of Air New Zealand getting as many people into the party to cover costs. 

This is so wrong on so many levels and you sense that the marketers let their egos take control.  It's all about the marketing and the advertising team having contact with models and visiting exotic locations.  They obviously thought they were being clever, by getting extra sponsors to cover their costs.  But all they did was focus on their needs.  They've totally forgotten about the real reason for the video.  The end result is a bizarre mix of bikinis, pretty beaches and obscure safety messages.

Overall, it's disappointing when you compare it to previous Air New Zealand safety videos that were funny and clever.  This just isn't very witty and the script lacks the previous finesse of other Air New Zealand inflight safety videos.  Without the models, the words border on being mediocre at best.  But it is better, than a flight attendant going through the motions with little enthusiasm.

All in all, I'd say that the models win for getting a great promotional opportunity that celebrates their beauty. 

In terms of whether Air New Zealand was able to make safety sexy, I'd have to say "no".  In the end, making a topic sexy is making people interested in it.  Yes, I'm sure lots of men will happily watch this video, but I'm sure if you tested them afterwards, you'd be hard pressed to get them to recall any safey messages.  But I'm sure they could remember the girls' names.  The topic of safety hasn't been made more engaging, it's just been hyped up, extremely diluted and lost in a sea of unforgettable information.  It just feels superficial and meaningless.

Cocktail by the beach, anyone?




Topics: Air New Zealand safety videos, safety in paradise, safety videos, inflight safety video