Air NZ Worst safety ad -pulled. What went wrong?

a group of people posing for a photoI have not met anyone who has disliked the highly creative Air New Zealand safety briefings until now. After hree months of criticism from NZ Politicians, celebrities, and the public, the airline has pulled their latest $2.5m safety ad:

a black text on a white background

(Youtube comment)

The video took American hip hop ground Run DMC’s 1987 hit “It’s tricky” and replaced “tricky” with  “Kiwi”.

The jingle was “It’s Kiwi to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that’s safe and fly,”

It starred Kiwi actor Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Deadpool2), local musicians Kings, Theia and Randa and talent from 30 community groups from across the country. It included Air New Zealand cabin crew, pilots, engineers, loaders and check in staff. All told 600 Kiwis were involved. It was filmed in Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, Balclutha, Hokitika and Naseby in New Zealand.

a group of people dancing

It was the airline’s biggest ad and it got the country talking. Negatively.

This was the airline that had got away with a nude safety video, included Bear Gryllis and piggybacked onto  the Lord of the Rings franchise. What went wrong? I think there were three issues:

  1. Compared to other safety briefings, the safety message was much more confused and difficult to see

    a black text on a white background

    (Youtube comment)

  2. Rap music is a niche market. Few people actively seek out rap music, few people know Run DMC let alone a song from 30 years ago. For me the song became irritating after two run throughs.
  3. Many NZers criticized the song for feeling too “American”. Ironically it featured more  Kiwis than any other ad they have done but the airline missed the mark here. This for me hits the nail on the head. NZ has a large number of homegrown bands that could have been used to showcase local new stuff instead of a remake

It is telling that Air New Zealand has replaced It’s Kiwi Safety with their 2016 Summer of Safety video which features well-known Kiwis in landscapes in the north of the country. Thus may be a lesson, the airline needs to take forward.


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