For instance, if you’ve flown Delta recently, you probably watched the Airline’s tongue-in-cheek preflight video. Among the humor, the video features a guy using a pizza peel to store a freshly made pizza in the overhead bin; a woman whose portable electronic device is a hand-mixer; and a man buckling his seatbelt who sports a plaid flannel shirt and red nail polish. In addition, flight attendants urge passengers, who include a frog, a chicken, and a member of the Queen’s Guard, to obey all posted cabin placards, such as “no smoking,” “no goats,” and “no water skiing.”
How do real passengers react to the funny video? First, unlike their response to typical safety announcements, during which many people read or sleep, passengers pay attention to Delta’s video. Second, they seem to enjoy it. My seatmate on a recent Delta flight was a senior woman from Detroit, who got as big a kick out of the video as I did. Likewise, younger adults, teens, and kids also seemed to appreciate the humor.
Communication that’s ignored can’t be effective. The Delta video, in contrast, succeeds in gaining attention and keeping interest. But, does the video’s comedy detract from or diminish important safety information? I don’t think so. The humor is rather adeptly placed to lightly season, not oversaturate, the safety messages. For instance, there’s no joking when it comes to showing exactly where the emergency exists are located and how rescue rafts are deployed. In the end, the humorous video likely gets passengers to process information they otherwise would have disregarded, while also putting people at ease in what can be a high-stress setting.
Will Delta parlay the use of humor in its preflight video into something more, perhaps repositioning its entire brand as funny, like Southwest Airlines? I hope not. In the meantime, though, Delta has successfully used humor to adapt an important part of its “product,” delivering both stakeholder value and upholding societal values. This specific funny approach to flying does represent Mindful Marketing.