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Even a captive audience needs creativity to care

If you think it’s hard to get your audience excited about your latest presentation, imagine being in charge of in-flight safety videos. Here’s a case where you have information that your audience absolutely needs to hear. But your audience hears this speech frequently – perhaps every week or even daily – and has probably stopped listening or never heard you in the first place, even though their life could depend on your presentation. What hope do you have to get them to pay attention?

The answer: make them want to join the (dance) party.

Now more and more airlines are using their airline safety videos as an opportunity to keep passengers safe as well as set the tone for the entire flight and for their brands as a whole. Southwest was one of the first airlines to put some merriment in the mundane. I also like the visual gags in Delta’s safety videos, especially their latest holiday version.

But my most recent favorite is #t=45" target="_blank">Virgin America’s, which seems more like a fun music video I want to see several times. Instead of being a chore to watch, I can’t help but watch it! The man behind the video was Jon M. Chu, the director of Step Up 2. Chu paid attention to many visual and verbal details to create a thoroughly entertaining work. Here’s a brief list of the creative choices that were spot on:

A new setting. Chu made an interesting choice in taking the scene out of the usual airplane environment and into a hangar, with opaque shapes for windows. This was probably a practical choice too, since the dancers needed space to show off. It also helped the video stand out right away from the first frame and invited the audience into a big party in the sky where all the cool people fly.

A fun script…that still said what it needed to. The video’s creators didn’t let the fact that they had to comply with FDA regulations with their instructions hold them back from inserting clever segues like, “If you’re the .01% who doesn’t know how to put on a seat belt…” And having fun characters, like the nun and cute kids, say the words we’re all so used to hearing imprinted the instructions again on our minds.

Branding that’s subtle and natural. You may not have noticed this, but the video included nods to Virgin’s branding and use cases on various devices, like phones and iPads. (Although they may have to change this section to reflect new FDA rules allowing electronic devices!) And the safety cards people held up and waved (to the beat, of course) reinforced Virgin’s brand without seeming obvious.

I don’t look that cool when I fly, but boy, I wish I did.

This article is written by Nancy Duarte and was originally published on LinkedIn.


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