How Two Airlines Made Safety Videos Epic

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Air New Zealand Screenshot

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What is the difference between a mundane airline safety video and a viral video that has people on airplanes AND at home watching safety instructions? Brilliant marketing! That’s right, airlines are utilizing pop culture to keep their traveling audiences captivated, as well as us at home. Virgin America Airlines and Air New Zealand have found innovative ways to keep their passengers entertained through these clever airline safety videos. In 2013, Virgin America Airlines hired famous director Jon M. Chu, as well as renowned singer/choreographer Todrick Hall and a few others, and created the toe-tapping musical production that discusses everything from buckling up to how to exit the plane. But the music and choreography aren’t the only astounding aspects of this video. According to Hubspot, the Virgin America Airlines safety video had 9 million views – and those are people that didn’t even step on an airplane. They also recorded 430,000 Facebook shares, and 17,000 tweets in less than two weeks. Virgin America is utilizing one of the best marketing tools of this day and age – buzz. They created buzzworthy content and the social media world responded. In 2012, Air New Zealand released “An Unexpected Briefing” to promote New Zealand travel as well as the first Hobbit feature film. The safety video provided an interesting twist to a normal safety video, showing passengers with unique character features, like Hobbit feet or Gandalf’s beard and hat. Air New Zealand released an updated Hobbit-themed in-flight safety video just a week ago. The video has already hit over 9 million views. This time around, they feature stars from the film like Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom, as well as Lord of the Rings director, Sir Peter Jackson. The title of the video itself draws attention – “The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made”.  According to Marketing Magazine, Air New Zealand has even officially branded itself the “official airline of the Middle Earth”. Air New Zealand’s tie in with the Hobbit feature films not only assists in advertising for the Hobbit, but allows their brand to piggy-back onto a larger, globally-known franchise. This bumps up the marketing game beyond clever Youtube videos that captivate audiences, it’s filling dual purposes for the airline and popular culture. Many businesses can learn from these airlines’ online marketing. By shaping their content and brand in a unique and entertaining way, they turned a monotonous service into a shareable, buzzworthy entity.