In-Flight Safety Videos: The Perfect Marketing Tool

Flashback: I'm 10 years old.  I'm on an airplane, watching the safety video with white-knuckled attentiveness. The words hold the key to my future existence, and I am not going to miss a single syllable.

Fast forward: These days, I don't even notice the in-flight videos. Those messages that once demanded my attention are now white noise that blends right into the hum of the engines.

Can you relate?

Funny In-Flight Safety Videos:  A Brief History

While the majority of in-flight safety videos still classify as boring, a recent trend has emerged.  Since 2008, airlines have begun taking a creative approach to delivering in-flight safety instructions (see the timeline below).

As Adweek recently reported, airlines are increasingly using humor and intrigue to grab--and hold on to--passengers' attention. Virgin America has gone over the top with an in-flight safety music video. And since introducing "Deltalina" in 2008, Delta continues to play with quirky jokes and sight gags. Its latest holiday-themed in-flight video incorporates the cameo technique the airline first introduced in 2012.

I first experienced this new approach in 2011 aboard an Air New Zealand flight, embarking upon a semester abroad.  As we were taking off for Auckland, I put down my book for the entire duration of the Richard Simmons video and chuckled along with my fellow passengers as we watched his antics. Since then, Air New Zealand has introduced four iterations--the company's latest video featuring Betty White.

Why shake things up?

These federally-mandated safety videos are a perfect marketing opportunity. Airline passengers are the ultimate captive audience.  What better use of in-flight videos is there than to tell the brand story? Better yet, the story gets told and retold off the airplane: posted online, these creative videos serve double duty as a social media marketing tool. Many have hundreds of thousands--if not millions--of views on YouTube.

The Best of the Best: Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand, in my admittedly biased opinion, does the best job of leveraging the marketing potential. The airline has employed star power--Bear Grylls and All-Blacks, in addition to Richard Simmons and Betty White--to showcase its country. The Bear Grylls version spotlights beautiful landscapes. The Betty White video embraces the Kiwi accent while appealing to both older generations who are familiar with her, as well as a younger "Off Their Rockers" audience. And a Hobbit-inspired video underscores New Zealand's tourism draw as the home of J.R.R. Tolkein's Middle Earth, earning more than 11 million views on YouTube.

Take-aways for Marketers

Make use of every possible opportunity to tell your story. Know your audience. Leverage social media as much as possible. And don't be afraid to be creative and push the limits!

Could a little extra creativity shake up your industry, too? We want to help you answer that question and move your organization closer to its target audiences.

Flight Video Chronology

February 20, 2008: Delta

June 22, 2009: Air NZ - Body Paint

January 6, 2010: Southwest Airlines

August 26, 2010 Thompson

March 27, 2011: ANZ -Simmons

May 26, 2011: Turkish Airlines

November 25, 2011: Air NZ - All Blacks

November 1, 2012: Delta

November 1, 2012: Delta

October 31, 2012: Air NZ - Hobbits

February 27, 2013: Air NZ - Bear Grylls

October 9, 2013: Air NZ - Betty White

October 24, 2013: Delta - Holiday

October 29, 2013: Virgin America - Dance

Category: Marketing
Tags: branding, multimedia