Air France's Safety Presentation Does Little On The Safety Front

Given that I no longer do anything besides work and attempt to keep two children alive, I’m more intent than ever on finding some small smidgen of humor in every workaday situation. Upon ordering my typical breakfast of perky milkshake and lardwich with cheese, I tell the cashier, “My maharishi says I can counteract the effects of this with spirit crystals.” Perched with five similarly situated couples outside the delivery room last summer, I asked everyone, “So, what are you in here for?” Ha ha, right? You should invite me to your next cocktail party. I will sarcasto-quip Dick Cavett within an inch of his life.

That said, there is a single place on the planet where I am incapable of finding humor: the airport. It’s not because I fear flying - as a worshipper at the altar of statistical probability, I realize that I’m more likely to meet my end during a charity dance-a-thon - but rather because I don’t take well to being treated like discarded gum. Circa-2015 air travel is demeaning in ways that would prompt a bubbly adolescent Amelia Earhart to light the Wright Brothers’ flying-machine prototype on fire. It’d have to improve in every significant way to be described as “the worst.”

So to every airline on the planet, except maybe Southwest even though Southwest doesn’t have a robust presence in my area of the country so I guess Southwest too: Until you get your customer-whispering, on-time-performance, coach-class-spatial-allocation, protection-of-waiting-line-integrity and cleanliness houses in order, stop trying to entertain and/or divert us with your flight-safety videos. The fact that you’ve seemingly prioritized these as a means of giving back to the customer speaks to a corporate arrogance that needs to be stomped stupid. “Sure, we’re going to charge you $8 for a blanket-and-pillow set repurposed from hobo overcoats, but you’ll be so delighted by our well-crafted safety presentation that you won’t even notice the scabies mites.”

These things have become A Thing in the last year or so; they’ve even become clickbait fodder for some of our country’s most stalwart journalistic institutions. They must be stopped. Let me do my part by enumerating a few teensy problems I have with Air France’s recent contribution to the genre, “Nouvelle vidéo démonstration de sécurité Air France” (look at me, all up on my half-remembered accent aigus from high-school French).

1. It’s about safety the way 2001: A Space Odyssey is about zoomy rocketships. Color me uptight, but I like my safety videos the way I like my furniture instructions: straightforward, prescriptive and devoid of stylistic flourishes - like, say, a quintet of bright-eyed models, who we’ll get to in a moment. This clip may hit all the safety high notes - it even adds a no-Sherlock-Holmes-pipes addendum to the bathroom-smoking rules - but it’s first and foremost a branding exercise. It wouldn’t appear to be a coincidence that the clip looks and sounds just like a “worldwide commercial” for Air France that debuted two weeks ago. Bravo for the chromatic consistency, though. Those mischievous splashes of color will sure come in handy if a plane splashes into the ocean.

2. The models look bored out of their teeth. Yes, this gig isn’t exactly NYC Fashion Week - but it’s not the Upper Huntsboro County Auto Show, either. Prance like you mean it, ladies. I’ve seen more involved faux tugs-of-war with seatbelting mechanisms in the parking lot of the local daycare facility. And you call THAT a technically proficient evacuate-or-perish side-step? Why not just trench-crawl down the aisle?

3. The outfits and backdrops appear to have been poached off the set of a Target ad. I might not be a creature of style - that sound you just heard was my wife snorting derisively - but even I can’t miss the similarities with Target’s super-duper-trendy TV spots. The bright colors! The stripes! The airy ambiance-ity! If the jury that hand-slapped Robin Thicke over the song that sounds vaguely like the other song got a hold of this one, Target would be able to extend credit monitoring for customers affected by its security breach through 2055.

4. Air France is so enamored with this thing that it produced a making-of companion clip. Or maybe it’s a making-of for something entirely different, because I don’t remember too many ceiling-suspended swings in the safety clip. Is this the aforementioned worldwide commercial? Whatever. Stop confusing me with autoplay.

I am not easily moved to violence, partly because violence doesn’t solve anything and partly because I’m weak and lazy. But if I were offered immunity from punishment, I would punch this safety video in the thorax. Please, airlines, deign to focus your attention on the parts of the flying experience that matter to people who don’t work in your marketing department.

2 comments about "Air France's Safety Presentation Does Little On The Safety Front".
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  1. Karen Goldfarb from Madcap Labs, March 19, 2015 at 11:47 p.m.

    This is obviously a trend because airlines are trying to get us dumbass travelers to pay attention to the safety video. So kudos to them for putting in effort. It would be nice if they applied that same energy to not sucking in every other conceivable way. Of course, I ride coach so what do I know...

  2. Marilois Snowman from Mediastruction, March 20, 2015 at 12:32 p.m.

    I couldn't disagree more. I recently rode Virgin America and was delighted with its safety video. Its entertainment value solicited much more engagement and information retention than the tune-out repeats. Besides that, why shouldn't safety information elevate the brand (pardon the Virgin America pun) and compliment every other consumer touchpoint? Larry, enjoy a glass of wine and relax.

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