Should airlines continue to make onboard safety videos funny and entertaining?

The new safety video for Turkish Airlines stars Lego characters, including Batman and Superman. It is the latest airline to try to make the onboard safety videos more entertaining.
(Turkish Airlines )

For years, airlines have made passengers sit through boring safety videos that send the same predictable messages: “fasten your seat belts” … “store your luggage in the overhead bin” … “your seat can be used as a flotation device.”

But in the last few years, airlines have tried to make those videos entertaining, funny and even provocative — even if the safety message got lost in the jokes and merriment.

Over the last few years, Air New Zealand produced several airplane safety videos featuring nude flight attendants, fitness guru Richard Simmons and characters from the “Lord of the Rings” movies.

Delta Air Lines got into the act two years ago with a safety video that featured internet memes like the cat riding a Roomba vacuum and the Ice Bucket Challenge.


Turkish Airlines this week released a safety video that stars characters from the Lego movies, including Batman and Superman.

Marketing experts say the idea of adding humor and entertainment to an otherwise predictable video makes sense but, in the case of airline safety videos, passengers will remember the message only if it is directly tied to the jokes and entertainment.

Zoe Chance, an assistant professor of marketing at Yale University, noted that many viewers of the NFL’s televised Super Bowl game remembered the funniest commercials but often couldn’t recall the advertiser or the product that was being promoted.

“Just having naked flight attendants doesn’t work if the passengers don’t remember the message. They just remember the naked flight attendants,” she said.


On the other hand, Chance said that laughter can trigger endorphins and lower stress levels in people. If the safety video prompts a few chuckles, she said, the passengers may not remember the message but they may associate the airline with good feelings, a psychological tendency known as the “halo effect.”

“So you turn that moment of joy into a positive feeling for the airline,” Chance said.

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