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The New Age of Airline Safety Videos

The airline Virgin America just released its new safety video, which is perhaps one of the better music videos of 2013. Filmed by the director of Step Up 2: The Streets, it features a contortionist, a rap about life vests, and a lot of snappily dressed dancing children. For Virgin, the video is clearly expert brand-building: hip, youth-friendly, slightly off kilter. “Safety videos are usually far too dry, and passengers tune out,” the announcement on Virgin America’s website reads. “Gone are the days of struggling to pay attention to the demonstration in front of you, watching very formal information about fire exists and seatbelts merge into a blur of words. Now, the possibilities for what a safety video can be are endless.” It’s clearly a far cry from the safety demonstrations of yore. (For instance: this Lufhansa safety video demonstration from the ’80s, which plays for an interminable four-minutes-forty-seconds and includes lines like “Our plane has eight emergency exists located on both side of the cabin. They are marked with the word ‘exit.’”) But Virgin is not quite as trailblazing as it thinks. CNN reported in 2009 that “the grand corporate brand” in the world of airline marketing was over. And in the past few years, the age of the safety video as airline advertisement has produced gem after gem.

Air New Zealand, 2011:

Air New Zealand has been cranking out strategically quirky airline safety videos for years. This one features body-painted airline attendants, an attempt to highlight the carrier’s lack of fees compared with its competitors.  (See also: this insane video with Richard Simmons.)

Delta, 2012:

Delta has also been on a tear with its safety videos, which linger on small, absurd details like a brawny guy in a cowboy hat putting a pink panda suitcase into the overhead bin:

El Al, 2010:

 A tiny cartoon flight attendant with wings flutters throughout the cabin:

Cebu Pacific, 2010: 

There’s something faintly unnerving, but also impressive, about these airline attendants on Cebu Pacific dancing through the aisles to Lady Gaga: