4 Things Your Business Can Learn from a ‘Boring’ Pre-Flight Safety Briefing

Nov 19, 2013   //   by Mike   //   Latest News  //  Comments Off on 4 Things Your Business Can Learn from a ‘Boring’ Pre-Flight Safety Briefing

Last week, my friend DJ Waldow flew from New York to his home in San Francisco on Virgin America. On board the airplane, DJ Skyped me to share a fun video he had just watched and (later) wrote about. (Let me pause and channel Louis CK for a moment: He was flying through the air! Sitting in a chair! On the Internet!)

It might not be unusual to share a video with friends. But it’s less common to share a pre-flight safety briefing.

The new Virgin video is probably the only safety video I’ve ever seen that plays more like a music video than a boring safety briefing. But, what’s more, Virgin is also breaking new ground to by linking the pre-flight video to a fun marketing program, using Instagram and other social tools to expand the reach exponentially beyond those whose butts are already in a Virgin seat.

More on this in a minute. First, take a look at the video DJ shared:

So, yeah. It’s fun and cool, right?

Virgin tapped Hollywood Director John Chu to create the high-energy video, which is set entirely to dance and song. Chu featured choreography from some of the dance world’s best-known talent, including Christopher Scott and Jamal Sims, and Todrick Hall (American Idol) and Cyrus Spender (So You Think You Can Dance).

But it’s not just cool. It’s also brilliant. Here’s what any company can learn from the most interesting components of it:

1. Tell a bigger story well. Virgin’s new safety video isn’t just a video. It’s also deeply aligned with the brand’s musical roots (Virgin sponsors its own music festivals in the US, UK and Australia, among other music-related initiatives); as well, it furthers the airline’s expressed commitment to “making flying fun again.” The message in this video might be FAA-required, but the look and feel of it is uniquely Virgin.

Lesson for your brand: This stylish video is steeped in the brand’s bigger brand story. Can you say the same about the content your company produces? Think of it this way: If you covered up your logo on your website or video or blog or any content you’ve produced, would people still recognize it as coming from you?

2. Notice content moments everywhere. Virgin could’ve produced a boring video like most other airlines do (not all: Air New Zealand is another notable exception). But it didn’t squander the opportunity to create something special that (by the way) has garnered 6 million YouTube views and significant press coverage.

Lesson for your brand: “Content” isn’t just things we think of as “marketing.” Rather, your content is everything your company produces: Your product pages, your FAQ page, microsites, your About Us page, your whole website (!), and (in this case) your Federal Aviation Administration-required safety videos.

Publishing is an incredible privilege! It’s an immense opportunity! I want to use SHOUTY CAPS here, because it’s THAT important a point: Don’t squander any opportunity to connect with the people you want to reach—whether that “content” is considered “marketing” or not.

3. Break a few rules (but only if your story is strong enough). As I wrote last week aboutSkype’s Born Friends video, the number-one rule for video is to Keep It Tight. In other words, respect the audience’s time, and don’t expect them to invest more than 60 to 90 seconds in your online video. (Or in any content, for that matter.)

But this safety video (at a whopping five minutes) was so enjoyable that I sat through the whole thing. And I wasn’t strapped into an airplane seat at the time.

Lesson for your brand: A strong story wins you a pass!

4. Create experiences worth sharing. This safety video isn’t just an FAA-required briefing. Cleverly, it’s also marketing. Virgin has linked it to a social media campaign and contest, inviting dancers to audition to be a dancer in the next iteration of the Virgin video via a microsite.

Air New Zealand’s recent safety video featuring Betty White does have a contest linked to it, too: Viewers can watch its latest safety video, Safety Old School Style, and tell Air New Zealand how they “live life to the full” for a chance to win a trip to Palm Springs USA or Queenstown, New Zealand.

But individuals enter the Air New Zealand contest through a microsite web form only, whereas Virgin’s microsite and program has additional creative social twists that expand the pre-flight video into new territory, and gets Virgin in front of new audiences, and encourages engagement.

Dancers can submit their dance moves by posting a video that features them to Instagram by November 22. With 10 days (as of this writing) to go, more than 175 15-second videos have been submitted and tagged on Instagram with #VXsafetydance; many have been shared on Twitter.

Additionally, visitors to Safety Dance Battle can vote their favorites up or down.

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