Funny airline safety videos: Are they actually effective?

Do funny airline safety videos really work?

Airlines certainly think so, and they're prepared to spend big to make an impact. Air New Zealand recently released a safety video that reworks the Men in Black theme, complete with Rip Torn and Frank the Pug.

Australia's own David Campese makes a cameo appearance and the safety instruction briefing is turned into a rap number by a pair of All Blacks – get it?

This follows on from similar Air New Zealand safety videos that have taken their cues from Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit (above) and "Safety Safari", a surf-theme video starring a clutch of male and female professional surfers, world champions among them. All run close to five minutes yet from all reports flyers are sitting up and paying attention.

In the US, Delta, United, Virgin America and Southwest Airlines are all taking the starch out of the safety briefing. In mid-2014, a fast talking Southwest Airlines flight attendant turned the safety demo into a stand-up comedy routine that had the whole cabin in fits. The performance went viral on social media, and anything that allows an airline to show off its human side is rock solid gold. More recently, a WestJet flight attendant also took a humorous approach to the safety demonstration which also became a viral hit.

A distinctive safety video is also a branding exercise for airlines. Constrained as they are by the economics of airline types, seating and meals, there are not too many ways that an airline can bring a sense of individuality to its product. A radical departure from the same-old same-old safety briefing is one.

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