Alternative in-flight safety videos are all the rage – but are they fit for purpose?

EVA Air released a new in-flight safety video last week. And, boy is it different. Eschewing the simple, informative, and let’s face it – dull, safety vids and demonstrations we have been presented with for years, EVA Air have created a work of art.

The airline have tried to improve inflight safety before, but with this campaign they have gone all-in on the growing trend for “alternative” safety videos. Combining the talents of award-winning director Robin Lee and internationally celebrated choreographer Bulareyaung Pagarlava, the five-minute, 26-second video is a blend of modern dance, state-of-the-art 3D projection and motion-capture technology – and while undoubtably an aesthetic delight, is it fit for purpose?

Director Lee described her vision for the video as a transition in space from the confined aircraft cabin to the globe and its vast possibilities. The video’s 3D projection, motion-capture technology and choreographed movements create a world of virtual reality in real-time for the dancers’ interactions with projected animations. Waves of discrete floating particles represent mobile phone signals and other intangibles while the dancers’ graceful movements remind passengers to stow luggage and fasten seat belts.

That is all well and good, and as I have already pointed out, it is certainly pretty. However, to my mind, where it succeeds as piece of art – it totally sucks as an instructional video. Pushing six minutes the floaty visuals, plinky-plonky music and soporific voice-over all conspire to make me feel uninterested and lethargic.

Sure, it may not be a good idea to adrenalize passengers with loud bangs and flashing lights, nor scare us with the possibility of an emergency situation. But, my attention should be held for the duration of the vid, which unfortunately, much like the demonstrations we love to mock, the EVA Air attempt absolutely fails to do.

Something which Shashank Nigam (above), the CEO of SimpliFlying and author of SOAR, a bestseller on airline marketing, agrees with “I’m not a big fan of the new EVA Air safety video. The dancers don’t seem to be demonstrating safety instructions and, in fact, are quite distracting from the audio instructions too.”

However, I love the idea of trying out new things and EVA Airs’ attempt at reinventing in-flight safety is to be applauded, and over the last few years many airlines have attempted to develop these videos, most notably Air New Zealand, who have been going off-piste with inflight vids since 2010.

The production costs of EVA Air’s recent effort must be enormous, but to what intent, and is it really worth the expense?

Shashank believes it is, “Airlines realize that a safety video is a great medium for getting a brand message across — every single passenger is compelled to watch it. So why not make the video more compelling to begin with?

Investment in safety videos can have a large range – from those hand-drawn animations [in the EVA Air video] which probably cost less than $10,000 to those that require a production set or a licensing deal like Virgin America dance video or Air New Zealand’s Lord of the Rings series respectively.

Moreover, the likes of Air New Zealand have shown that safety videos can be great marketing tools to drive brand affinity online. If the right elements are infused in the video, it may very well go viral. Hence, more airlines are thinking about creatively using their safety videos as marketing.”

Expanding on his theme Shashank opined “When it comes to owning the category of using safety videos for marketing, I believe no one comes close to Air New Zealand. After their consistent run of releasing hit after hit over the last eight years, almost every safety video done by another airline seems like a me-too. Air New Zealand’s Men in Black video is my personal favourite. I also like the psychedelic nature of American Airline’s latest safety video.”

Shashank even thinks the creative videos can enhance safety, as long as the safety message does not get drowned out with marketing spiel. I semi-agree with this point of view, humans love novelty, and we will always pay attention to something fresh and new — for a minute or two at least. But, when it comes to health and safety there is a case to be made for simple instructions presented in a clear and concise manner.

What do you think, are you stimulated to watch these mini-films straight out of the left-field? Or do you think safety comes first, and we should not treat potentially serious situations so lightly? Let us know in the comment section below.


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