Is your brand guilty of taking itself too seriously?

30 Sep

Brands are like people. When you meet somebody (especially an authority figure) that can’t poke fun at themselves, it’s hard to feel emotionally connected to that person.

Is your brand guilty of taking itself too seriously?

Air New Zealand is a brand that hasn’t been taking itself seriously lately. It began with the Nothing To Hide campaign, which showed Air New Zealand staff not wearing very much. This safety video was posted on YouTube, where it was seen by more than 5 million people.

Just to be perfectly transparent, I absolutely loathe this campaign. I find it painfully reminiscent of an old marketing technique my friends and I used in primary school:

Now we’ve got your attention, come see our puppet show.

They weren’t sexy puppet shows either. Feel free to disagree with me on this point, but I generally feel that if you’re one of the nation’s most prominent corporate brands – one partially owned by the Government, no less – and you can’t get 5 million views by sponsoring amateur nudity on the internet, there’s something terribly wrong.

With the Rugby World Cup looming, we’re probably going to see the majority of our national brands aligning themselves with the cause. Air New Zealand has set the bandwagon rolling with their most recent safety video.

And you know what?

I realised that it wasn’t just the nudity that bothered me about the Nothing To Hide safety video. It was the whole approach. Air New Zealand had worked so hard to be funny that the significance of the communication was lost. This is a safety video, not an ad. It still needs to do the job of reminding people that they are hurtling through the sky in a pressurised piece of metal tubing – a pastime with very real dangers.

Today I saw this safety video by Virgin Airlines. It genuinely made me smile, without the kind of forced humour that underpins the Air New Zealand efforts.

Why does it work? Because it constantly reinforces the purpose of the communication – this is a safety video. It doesn’t treat me like an idiot – of course I know how to buckle a seatbelt, so there’s a joke about that.

Best of all, it puts me at ease, because it doesn’t make light of the very real safety concerns any normal human being has when they climb aboard any aircraft; it clearly explains the steps I need to take in the event of an emergency; and it presents them with a gentle, reassuring, confident sense of humour, using language I can easily relate to.

Is your brand guilty of not taking itself seriously enough?


One Response to “Is your brand guilty of taking itself too seriously?”

  1. Hannah JV September 30, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    I had the pleasure of riding Virgin America from San Fran to LA last year. It was just a short flight, but after countless short flights around the states with nauseating safety messages, Virgin’s was a breath of fresh air. This relaxed (but obviously still professional) way they went about the safety message permeated out – the crew ran their service in this same manner. I wish I could say the same for my recent Air NZ flight – that safety message hangs dead in the air; corny and awkward.

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