Last week, we released our latest trends report, Content Marketing Strategies for Airlines on the new generation of mobile first consumers, and how travel brands need to understand their needs.

Below is a short extract. Get the full report to understand this new trend.

Who would have thought that compliance with a regulatory requirement could help airlines engage with customers and a general audience, while also generating an interesting source of revenue and partner brand collaboration. Yet, that’s exactly what viral safety videos have done.

Not only have airline safety videos become a popular share on social media, they’ve generated positive press for airlines—with perhaps the notable exception of Air New Zealand’s controversial Sports Illustrated safety video which was deemed sexist. Even that, however kept Air New Zealand’s name in the press and generated a conversation about other videos the airline has produced.

Indeed, while other airlines have made their own entertaining safety videos, Air New Zealand has invested heavily in this platform, turning out high-quality productions which satisfy regulators and entertain customers on the ground and in the air.

“Our first quirky safety video was our Bare Essentials of Safety video released in 2009 which featured body painted staff from across our business.We wanted to do something different that would create interest and attention,” says Kelly Kilgour, Corporate Communications Executive at Air New Zealand. “Air New Zealand’s inflight safety videos are an impactful way for us to share safety messages in a way that is also entertaining. In addition to this our safety videos have collectively been viewed more than 50 million times online and have featured in coverage by global media outlets such as CNN, BBC, and the New York Times – helping us gain significant brand presence on a crowded global stage.”

The public relations reach and brand differentiation brought about by Air New Zealand’s partnership with the Hobbit franchise has been considerable, Kilgore tells us, as has the project itself been ambitious and comprehensive.

“Our Hobbit-inspired videos were created as part of a three-year partnership with The Hobbit Trilogy, which included marketing and sales campaigns in the markets we operate to leverage our partnership and drive demand for Middle-earth as a destination,” says Kilgore. “This activity included two Hobbit-inspired safety videos, two aircraft liveries, themed merchandise, competitions and unique fan opportunities. It’s safe to say that our Hobbit-inspired safety videos have been one of the most successful parts of our marketing strategy.”

“Our safety videos in particular have been a creative platform to not only drive awareness and engagement with the brand but also sales. While we don’t disclose specific figures, we do know that on the days we launched our Hobbit-inspired safety videos we saw a significant spike in traffic to our websites and subsequently an increase in ticket sales. The Hobbit films have also had a significant impact on New Zealand’s tourism industry. Tourism New Zealand data has shown that The Hobbit films and campaigns to support them have increased interest in New Zealand.”

These videos, and similar videos which airlines may introduce to address passenger’s concern for safety, are attractive to brand partners and present airlines with interesting opportunities for revenue from carefully positioned brand partners, and form an important part of Air New Zealand’s unique brand identity.

“In a highly competitive and commoditized market, it is increasingly important to make customers feel warmly welcomed, and to try and build excitement and anticipation for a trip,” says Kilgour. “In many cases our marketing campaigns, including our safety videos, serve as the first time people engage with our brand so it’s important to us that we showcase our personality and warm open nature. It’s all about making genuine connections and the safety videos help us achieve this”

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Photo Credit: In-flight video from Air New Zealand. Air New Zealand