Airline that has featured celebrities, surfers, dogs and swimsuit models in its light-hearted safety videos is rapped over knuckles for ‘extraneous material’

Air New Zealand’s Surfing Safari safety video was shot in four different locations and stars nine professional surfers. Photograph: Air New Zealand/YouTube

Air New Zealand’s Surfing Safari safety video was shot in four different locations and stars nine professional surfers. Photograph: Air New Zealand/YouTube

Air New Zealand has been rebuked by the country’s aviation watchdog for burying life-saving messages in among celebrity cameos in its pre-flight safety videos.

The airline is infamous for its elaborate star-studded clips in which celebrities like Richard Simmons, Bear Grylls and Betty White tell passengers how to respond in an aviation emergency.

But an email published by One News on Wednesday revealed that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had criticised the airline for including “extraneous material” in one of its clips – and indicated that the agency had communicated similar concerns in the past.

“As we have commented previously, the video diverges materially from the ‘safety message’ at times, and whilst I appreciate the need to engage the viewers, the extraneous material detracts from the scope and direction of the safety message.”

The writer referred the airline to CAA literature on cabin briefings.

The email referred to the Surfing Safari video, which featured nine professional surfers, including Mick Fanning, the three-time world champion from Australia, and Anastasia Ashley, who has modelled in Sports Illustrated.

Gabriel Medina of Brazil, Masatoshi Ohno of Japan, and Alana Blanchard and Laird Hamilton, both of the United States, also appeared in the clip, which was shot at four locations in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

The CAA told New Zealand media that it would not comment on individual instances relating to the production of safety videos but that even when assessed within its creative envelope” the Surfing Safari clip complied.

It was in fact retired in July and replaced by a video starring Anna Faris, the actor, and Rhys Darby, the New Zealand comedian who starred in Flight of the Conchords.

Titled Safety in Hollywood, the new clip was filmed at four different sets at Warner Brothers and involved more than 20 extras, including a chihuahua that had starred in Transformers and Grey’s Anatomy.

It has received more than 1.4m plays on YouTube since being uploaded.

 Faris said in a press release that Air New Zealand had “really redefined safety videos with its fun and creative approach”.

“It’s so easy to tune out when watching a traditional safety video, so it comes as such a delightful surprise when you get something that’s really fun and funny.”

Jodi Williams, the airline’s head of global brand, said the clips – which it actively promotes with the hashtag #AirNZSafetyVideos – had collectively drawn more than 83m views online.

One of its most high profile was the Lord of the Rings-themed Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made, released in October 2014 to coincide with the final film in the Hobbit trilogy.

Director Peter Jackson appeared in the clip alongside Elijah Wood and other cast members. Shot over six days at locations across New Zealand, it comes in at just under five minutes long and has been played nearly 16m times on YouTube.

It was the second Lord of the Rings-related clip from Air New Zealand – which markets itself as “the official airline of Middle-earth” – following on from An Unexpected Briefing in 2012. That was viewed more than 12m times.

The airline – which was named AirlineRatings.com’ Airline of the Year for the third consecutive year in December – began taking the novel approach to passenger safety in 2009 with its Bare Essentials of Safety clip, which showed cabin crew and staff giving safety briefings wearing only body paint.

Mike Tod, the chief marketing and customer office, said in an interview published on LinkedInin 2015 that the clips were effective marketing tools: “These pieces of content can put bums on seats.”

But they have been known to backfire. One clip that was produced in partnership with Sports Illustrated for the 50th anniversary of the magazine’s swimsuit edition drew criticisms of sexism and a Change.org petition calling for it to be pulled in July 2014.

“A safety video is to alert passengers on what to do in an emergency; it should not be an excuse to objectify the sexualised female body,” the petition said. “This video creates an unnecessarily difficult and uncomfortable working environment for its female staff, which goes against the entire nature of safety.”

The clip was pulled from flights but a spokeswoman for Air New Zealand told media that that was only because it had reached the end of its run.

ampion from Australia, and Anastasia Ashley, who has modelled in Sports Illustrated.

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Gabriel Medina of Brazil, Masatoshi Ohno of Japan, and Alana Blanchard and Laird Hamilton, both of the United States, also appeared in the clip, which was shot at four locations in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

The CAA told New Zealand media that it would not comment on individual instances relating to the production of safety videos but that even when assessed within its creative envelope” the Surfing Safari clip complied.

It was in fact retired in July and replaced by a video starring Anna Faris, the actor, and Rhys Darby, the New Zealand comedian who starred in Flight of the Conchords.

Titled Safety in Hollywood, the new clip was filmed at four different sets at Warner Brothers and involved more than 20 extras, including a chihuahua that had starred in Transformers and Grey’s Anatomy.

It has received more than 1.4m plays on YouTube since being uploaded.

FacebookTwitterPinterest

Faris said in a press release that Air New Zealand had “really redefined safety videos with its fun and creative approach”.

“It’s so easy to tune out when watching a traditional safety video, so it comes as such a delightful surprise when you get something that’s really fun and funny.”

Jodi Williams, the airline’s head of global brand, said the clips – which it actively promotes with the hashtag #AirNZSafetyVideos – had collectively drawn more than 83m views online.

One of its most high profile was the Lord of the Rings-themed Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made, released in October 2014 to coincide with the final film in the Hobbit trilogy.

Director Peter Jackson appeared in the clip alongside Elijah Wood and other cast members. Shot over six days at locations across New Zealand, it comes in at just under five minutes long and has been played nearly 16m times on YouTube.

FacebookTwitterPinterest

It was the second Lord of the Rings-related clip from Air New Zealand – which markets itself as “the official airline of Middle-earth” – following on from An Unexpected Briefing in 2012. That was viewed more than 12m times.

The airline – which was named AirlineRatings.com’ Airline of the Year for the third consecutive year in December – began taking the novel approach to passenger safety in 2009 with its Bare Essentials of Safety clip, which showed cabin crew and staff giving safety briefings wearing only body paint.

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Mike Tod, the chief marketing and customer office, said in an interview published on LinkedInin 2015 that the clips were effective marketing tools: “These pieces of content can put bums on seats.”

But they have been known to backfire. One clip that was produced in partnership with Sports Illustrated for the 50th anniversary of the magazine’s swimsuit edition drew criticisms of sexism and a Change.org petition calling for it to be pulled in July 2014.

“A safety video is to alert passengers on what to do in an emergency; it should not be an excuse to objectify the sexualised female body,” the petition said. “This video creates an unnecessarily difficult and uncomfortable working environment for its female staff, which goes against the entire nature of safety.”

The clip was pulled from flights but a spokeswoman for Air New Zealand told media that that was only because it had reached the end of its run.

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