Updated: Jan 3
Written by: Evan Goodfellow
Safety Manual, Really?
Have you ever sat on the plane prior to takeoff and the steward/stewardess came on the speaker and asked you to take out the safety manual in the front pocket and follow along and you looked at the manual and willfully disobeyed? Shame on you! Just kidding, everyone does it. For years it was that dead space in the flight where everyone knew it was for safety reasons and everyone just ignored the message. It wasn’t until recently that airlines began using this time more effectively, first to get the safety message across in a more interesting way, but also to startle and surprise the customer with their creative prowess. In a recent article in the Economist entitled Air New Zealand Making Airline Safety Sexy Again they look at how airlines have transformed this ignored area of the flight and turned it around for the airlines benefit.
Safety videos began as a way to save time for stewardess/stewards at the beginning of the flight, with a simple video going over the safety procedures. These boring videos gave way to over the top productions. Companies that took to the challenge of making these videos more interesting include Virgin America (integrated into Alaska Airlines in 2018) which presented a cartoon feature. However, Air New Zealand took the video to new heights in 2009 with “flight attendants and pilots in the buff, covered in body paint that closely resembled their uniforms,” states the article. This was followed up two years later with a flamboyant Richard Simmons type effort. But 2014 reached new heights with Air New Zealand when they had a Hobbit-themed feature complete with Peter Jackson and Elijah Wood starring in the performance.
The airlines most recent video “Surfing Safari” is not as grandiose as previous films but it has caught flack with New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority which has warned that the safety message is not front and center as it should be. But, what is front and center? While the video highlights the surf and is narrated by surfing champions from around the world, the highlight seems to be on the bodies of the surfers.
The Economist reports how the video does cover the usual safety messages, but are easy to miss as they are scattered throughout the video in between dramatic surf footage. The emergency exit section shows New Zealand’s top female athlete saying, “your nearest exit could be behind you,” and when she looks back, she sees paper lanterns on the beach being ignited which is a behaviour that Air New Zealand doesn’t want to foster on board.
Rethink the Mundane
What used to be an overly mundane activity has now become an entertaining and welcomed part of the flight by most passengers. While the primary purpose of these videos used to be safety, they have now morphed into a “cheap and highly effective form of advertising for the airline. The Hobbit-themed video became the most-watched YouTube video ever from New Zealand. The airline told the Guardian that its safety videos have collectively been watched online more than 83m times. The New York Times reported in 2009 that the body-paint video took a day to shoot and cost just 15% of what the airline would have had to spend on a standard commercial ad.” What is clear is that dead space in any business always has the potential to become a gold mine for getting your brand’s message across if done in a creative manner.
Sometimes when your company faces the same challenges again and again it is easy to become used to the problem and think that there is no way out, or that this aspect must be endured. We believe that fresh eyes and ears are the best way to create new ideas and solutions. With market research online communities we believe that your customers are the best new set of eyes and ears to help transform a dead space into a fresh new area of opportunity (read how Cathay Pacific used an insight community to improve their airline).
If you would like to find out how Insight Communities can work for you, please feel free to contact us.
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