Why Air New Zealand spends so much money on those elaborate safety videos

Sep 4, 2019

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Air New Zealand is a tiny player in the European market, with just one daily flight to London Heathrow, and a small player in the U.S. market, with just five destinations.  The airline has only 30 wide-body aircraft, compared with British Airways, which has 133 wide-body aircraft, and Air Canada, which has 74.

You may have never flown Air New Zealand before, but you may have seen its safety videos. Despite the airline’s small size and limited budget, it spends a huge amount on safety videos. While some airlines may stick with the same video for years, using the mindset of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Air New Zealand is different. The carrier has produced elaborate new safety videos about every six months for the past 10 years.

Why does such a small airline devote so much energy and money to something many passengers barely watch on other carriers? The more interesting the video, the more likely a passenger is to watch it — and safety is paramount for every airline. But that is not the primary motivation for Air New Zealand.

Jodi Williams, General Manager of Brand and Content for the airline, told the World Aviation Festival in London this week that Air New Zealand’s safety videos have become such a viral sensation that it makes sense to outspend larger competitors in this area and use the videos as a unique marketing opportunity.

When the airline enters new markets where other carriers already operate, those carriers usually outspend Air New Zealand by a margin of 10-to-1 on traditional marketing, Williams says.  So the airline has had to get creative, and now considers itself a “disrupter” in the category.

For some of those videos, the airline has recruited famous faces who don’t necessarily have any link to New Zealand — like Snoop Dogg, Betty White, Bear Grylls and Richard Simmons — but whose presence gets people talking. As the quirky videos spread by word of mouth, they help prospective customers learn more about the airline, according to Williams. 

The videos also have promoted the carrier as the Airline of Middle Earth (tourism is the No. 1 industry in New Zealand and “Lord of the Rings” was filmed there).

Air New Zealand’s safety videos are widely viewed and shared on YouTube, often before potential passengers even book a flight or board one of its planes. The airline has racked up over 200 million views of its safety videos online in the past 10 years — figures that larger airlines can only dream of.

While some might view the videos as silly, Air New Zealand says it’s a strategy that has worked well — and the proof is in the numbers.

 Featured image by Air New Zealand.

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