Viral videos on Youtube as airline marketing strategy – lessons from Air New Zealand

At a conference in Acapulco, Mexico this week, after my speech, a journalist asked me – how can airlines create viral videos? And my answer to that was… you can’t “create a viral video”. You can create a video and hope that it goes viral, meaning it gets watched by a lot of people and gets shared by lots too, generally in a short period of time. It’s an art, more than a science.

But it seems that the smart folks at Air New Zealand are bent on proving me wrong! 🙂

Fun safety videos as a marketing strategy?

1.2 million views in 40 hours. That’s what Air New Zealand’s latest safety video “Fit To Fly” has achieved.  It is high energy, 80s retro, Lycra clad fun hosted by that era’s exercise guru Richard Simmons, who is having a renaissance, and featured on Ellen recently. The video also features a few high profile cameos, including one from Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan. But the key point to note is that this is not the first of Air New Zealand’s safety videos that’s gone crazy-viral!

The Bare Essentials safety video, with crew (and CEO) in just body paint, has over 6 million views (and once caused this site to crash!). The safety video featuring the New Zealand All Blacks safety videos have over a hundred thousand views put together.

As we shared in the brand lessons from Air New Zealand previously, the airline loves to do the unconventional. And this time, they’ve taken the mundane safety demonstration and made it something people would want to watch over and over again (hopefully making the flying safer too!)

Viral videos – again and again and again!

The latest safety video has come on the back of a recorded a music video of Rico, the airline’s mascot, with superstar Snoop Dogg. That video is approaching a hundred thousand views too!  There is a bit of cross pollination going on, too, with Snoop wearing an All Black jersey for part of it and Adidas gear. Rico is already lined up to be interviewed by MTV about it.

For those who may be unaware, Rico is Air New Zealand’s furry mascot who is known for his infamous (if controversial) and exceptionally flirty viral ads promoting the airline’s new Skycouch, was recently flown to Los Angeles to collaborate on a new hit track launching a week before the release of Snoop’s new album, “Doggumentary.”

We’ve seen airlines produce one-off viral hits, like the rapping flight attendant on Southwest, or the Cebu Pacific dancing flight attendants.

But Air New Zealand has left most industry observers dumbfounded with their success on Youtube, and the ability to produce videos that go viral not by luck, but by design!

And that’s a great marketing strategy that’s difficult to replicate. For sure. Kudos to the Air New Zealand marketing team!

What’re your thoughts? do you think more airlines should use such a strategy? Do you know of other examples? Let’s hear it in the comments, and on Twitter.

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