Even before I stepped onto my very first Air New Zealand flight all those years ago I had a positive attitude towards the brand. They’d been running a series of outdoor ads which cleverly took the pus out of the nuh zuhland uccent. Anyone who can laugh at themselves gets my vote.
Then, once on the plane, I saw something which I’d never seen before — a safety demonstration which held my attention. They’d used the All Blacks and a heavy dose of antipodean humour to turn a mundane necessity into entertainment.
And with that, brand allegiance was born. By doing something different from the others — something thoughtful and clever and innovative — they effectively communicated to me “Hey, you know what, we’re thinking about you, our customer.”
They’ve rolled out a whole bunch of these things over the years (the Middle Earth one is classic), and they don’t always get it right (the Richard Simmons one is just hideous). But overall, they manage a pretty good hit rate.
Now, it’s got to the point where I EXPECT to see an interesting safety demonstration whenever I step onto an Air NZ flight — it’s simply what they do. My most recent flight featured Bear Grylls.
The latest one — Safety Old School starring Betty White — is another good example of their style; a good quality production which doesn’t take itself too seriously. It might make you groan a little, in a “daaaaddd” kind of way, but you’re not likely to switch off completely.
Both of which make me want to stab myself in the eyes and ears just to make it go away. The first one is tedious — there is just no way you can watch it to the end. The second is bizarre — the message (the whole point of the thing), is totally lost in an extravaganza of weird. It’s as if they’re saying “Yes, we’re thinking about you, but we don’t like you very much.”
Air New Zealand now claim to be “….the number one corporate brand in New Zealand Social Media”, and you can see why. They have a significant presence on all the key social platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. Plus, their own impressive social site. With this kind of sustained focus on customer relations, the airline has become virtually synonymous with the country.
Everything they do suggests a brand working hard to be worthy of their customers’ respect (and dollars) — high standards of quality, but with feet still firmly on the ground and tongue still firmly in cheek — a very human airline.
Dwayne Smith is a Finished Artist at BCM