Why the Airline Safety Video Can be a Great Marketing Tool — and How your Airline Can Get Started

While never stated explicitly, there seems to a tacit agreement that (creative) safety videos can only be produced by airlines with certain specific brand characteristics. This is an unfortunate assumption.

Here’s why:

  1. Video marketing is booming, and video is increasingly seen as one of the best ways to engage existing customers and to find new ones.
  2. Consider this: online video now accounts for 50% of mobile traffic.
  3. Videos can offer an immersive experience like no other form of media. (Virtual reality is still in its infancy.)

However, there’s a catch. While video is indeed growing rapidly, and sucking in millions of online consumers, everyone is doing it. Which creates a new challenge — while this indeed might be the media format most preferred online, not everything that is produced as a video works, or is worthy of attention. More than ever, there is a need to differentiate your marketing efforts from those of your competitors, and video is not the exception. Where can this differentiating niche be found?

The Social Marketing Paradox

Enter the airline safety video.

Until now the preserve of “bold” airlines such as Air New Zealand and Virgin America, the airline safety video — done creatively — is gaining a well-deserved reputation for being a useful marketing tool. The key is to understand the social marketing paradox.

In an online-centric world, your audience is generally quite uniform in its interests, and it is the audience that gets to dictate the terms of engagement. Which means in order to engage them you must produce content that is likely to interest them. However, in some cases, this might mean making difficult brand-related decisions. The simplest way to understand the social marketing paradox is to ask yourself this question: how would a Singapore Airlines do a creative safety video without compromising its brand?

There are three ways to resolve this:

  1. Stories: For brands that wish to retain their relatively conservative brand image while being creative, adopting a story-telling technique could reap rewards. For instance, Singapore Airlines could showcase its service culture and attention to detail, using the Singapore Girl as a lever to demonstrate the various gentle ways in which the crew interacts and assists passengers to understand these safety instructions. The challenge is creating an interesting concept; the upside is a new way to do a safety video.
  2. Brand Quirks: This is the technique adopted by airlines such as Air New Zealand and Virgin America who wish to emphasise the boldness of their brands — hence, their approach to safety videos involves flamboyance / fantasy. The challenge is finding hyper-creative concepts at regular intervals; the upside is that the videos become great tools for projecting brand consistency. 
  3. Destination & Culture: Each region in the world is unique and interesting. And there’s probably no better way to showcase it than through video. The challenge is weaving in destination and cultural elements without making the video look tacky; the upside is having a video concept that nobody else can copy, due to the distinctness of your own culture. 


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