Adding Some Turbulence To The Airline Market

The airline safety video is one of the most crucial components of a successful airline. It is, of course, helpful in an emergency when people are running wildly around the cabin but it has an even more important use. Something that Virgin has noticed with their latest service improvement.

virgin safety video

As a customer of an airline, your opinion of the brand will form before the wheels even leave the ground. So think about the experience of a consumer in this crucial 15 minutes – or longer if you are delayed.

Your ticket is scanned at the gate. You walk onto the plane while a flight attendant looks at your ticket and point you in the only possible direction for seating unless you were sitting in the cockpit (we all know where Row 12 is!). Then you sit in your cramped seat as a flight attendant and accompanying video takes you through a list of mundane tasks which include learning how to fasten your seatbelt.

I caught a plane twice in the last week and I can tell you that 95% of the people in that plane would have drowned had the plane hit a substantial body of water between Melbourne and Sydney. When the video started and the flight attendants took their place, everybody suddenly found something much more interesting to look at in their newspaper or complimentary airline-branded brochure. Not only is this dangerous but it also means that all the consumers have shut down to any further information about the airline-brand.

There have been many attempts to revolutionise the safety video and encourage patrons to pay attention such as the inclusion of cricketers or famous faces, but they have had very little impact in changing behaviour. That is until Virgin can out with their new safety video this week:

This video is an exercise in pure genius! It exemplifies the Virgin brand ideal of ‘irreverance’, it encourages people to pay attention to the important safety notices and it puts customers in a position where they are ready to enjoy their flight.

But there is one thing that this video does extraordinarily well. It keeps your attention.

In the current technology-driven society we are trained to tune out from stimulus that we have finished processing. And regardless the quality of song-writing, this is a constant concern for this safety video. So what has Virgin done?

Every 30-40 seconds the song changes. First it is an upbeat pop-song followed by a series of spoken instructions. Then there is a Willow Smith-inspired rap, some Robot techno and a Soul/Bossa Nova section before a child sings with a ‘Barry White’ voice. And finally the original pop song returns to round out the video.

If you lost attention during one of those sections it doesn’t matter. Your attention is drawn straight back in as the stimulus changes – especially when you see a very young child miming to a ‘Barry White’ voice – ensuring that the audience is always remaining alert for new information.

Congratulations on this fantastic safety strategy Virgin. May it be the first of many more exciting innovations in customer experience!

(And thanks to Sonya for the ideas behind this article!)