Delta's New Safety Videos: Losing the Course
We're also based out of Minneapolis/St. Paul, so we fly Delta quite a bit.
We have something to report.
Delta Airlines recently changed their safety videos.
And we hate it.
It's not just a knee-jerk reaction to change. There are brain-based reasons why changing the tone of the videos made them significantly less effective.
This is how Delta's safety videos used to look:
(There were several in the series, this is just one example.)
They get all the essential messaging across, but there is also humor and lightness. Even a seasoned flier will pay attention through some of the drier safety messaging (that they may have heard and ignored a hundred times before) because they're looking for that little nugget of entertainment.
What visual treat will I get next? What tiny thing will surprise and delight me?
This is the NEW Delta safety video that was playing the last few flights we've taken:
It's really...pretty? It's done well. It highlights the global nature of their business.
And it's tremendously dull.
I'm guessing the former are the reasons they went that direction. It's a classy video, sure. But no one was watching it. We tuned in for the first few seconds, saw that there wasn't going to be any humor payoff, and went back to our various diversions. It was easy to tune out.
We also noticed that there was a message from a *new* CEO in the beginning of the video. We speculated that they did as so many companies do; they changed the video strategy because a new head person wanted to go a new direction; to make their own mark in the creative branding of the company.
We don't know that for a fact, of course, but we've seen it enough times in events to recognize the strong possibility that this is the case.
Here's are four things we can learn from Delta's decision, as it applies to events:
1. Don't change JUST for the sake of change.
In this case, Delta had built up a reputation for these fun videos, so we were anticipating the same thing (maybe slight variances, but the direction and overall tone was the same). We were disappointed by a straightforward video and tuned out after figuring out that it wasn't going to be entertaining.
There is ample reason to change something when it feels stale or is no longer working, and change is quite frequently good. But changing something for the sake of change when the previous tactic or message was--and remains--effective isn't a wise move.
For instance, if you do a high energy meet-and-greet at every event and it feels fresh and people love it, there's no reason to stop doing it *only* because "we did that last year".
2. Don't prioritize flash over substance.
The new videos are very pretty. They have little flourishes and animations that are rather impressive and probably cost quite a bit to do.
But they're not the compelling hook that is going to get people to watch the video.
A lot of times we see events with VERY splashy opening videos, beautiful staging, specialty lighting and flourishes...and then the content is presented in a way that is overwhelming, stale, dry or boring. Flash will not overcome finding an engaging way to present content.
3. Humor is incredibly effective.
The previous Delta videos weren't always laugh-out-loud funny, but they had a touch of humor that hooked the viewer. The lighthearted structure made it clear that there was an effort to engage with the audience; to show them little visual punchlines while delivering a critical message.
Humor is effective because it activates your emotional connection to the content. When you engage your emotion, your content retention increases.
And along those lines:
4. Serious content doesn't have to be boring.
The safety messaging Delta is delivering could save lives. There are things that *must* be communicated--no matter how dry or boring. It's serious stuff, and in an emergency the content of that video needs to be on the forefront of everyone's mind.
A lot of people would, thus, shy away from bringing any levity into the messaging at all--fearing that people wouldn't take the messaging seriously if the delivery wasn't maximally serious.
However, the severity of the messaging means that it's even more critical for people to actually see it; to pay attention and absorb the content points. A bone-dry delivery is not an effective way to achieve that. Humor--done right--doesn't detract from the gravity of the messaging (whether it's an airline safety video or a corporate presentation). It does, however, go a long way toward audience engagement.
Important Message + Humor = Engaging Message Delivery
But this messaging is VERY important and could save a passenger's life in the event of an emergency. So what's an airline to do? Add in humor.
Delta put out two new safety videos:
The thing that's so strikingly good about these videos? They take their message seriously but they don't take themselves seriously. They know that people are tuning them out, but their message is critical, so they add moments of novelty and absurdity. These little "bonus" additions give the viewer something to focus on. It refreshes their attention and makes them look forward to the next moment of novelty or delight.
We hear a lot of companies say that their message is SO important that to have fun with it would diminish its seriousness. Well, what's more important than safety information in the event of a life-threatening situation? The fun doesn't diminish the message. The point is this: No matter how serious your subject, if your audience is tuning it out, it isn't going to be heard and remembered. Therefore it pays to have a little fun with it.
We here at Live Spark have flown hundreds and thousands of times. We've HEARD these pre-flight messages before. And yet we all watched these videos all the way through...twice.
Congratulations, you've just had the best event they'll never remember...
We made a short video highlighting our event philosophy.
These are absolute event truths that a lot of companies don't take into account when planning their event.
For instance: The attention span of an attendee during a presentation is 5-7 minutes. Do you know anyone that keeps their presentation that short? What about all those 90 minute CEO presentations about the direction of the company?
That's important information, right? Right. It is, in most cases, absolutely CRITICAL information. Yet the attention span of the audience wavers at the 5 minute mark. So how do you keep your audience engaged during a long presentation? (And no, the answer is not making everyone fit their content into 5 minute chunks...you can still have very effective 90 minute presentations--think of expert keynote speakers and how they keep the audience engaged the entire time...)
There are multiple ways to engage the audience that accommodates the limitations of the working memory. We employ several techniques: from varying content, to multimedia, to storytelling to more unique solutions like AniMated characters and audience interaction.
And yet, most meetings are planned so that if the right people present at the right time, and everyone who "needs" to present gets to present (structured around breaks, lunches and golf time, of course) the event is considered a success.
But when the attention span of the audience isn't taken into account for EVERY presentation, you lose the value of your event. Something to think about, no?
Say it with a Song
Maybe it seems silly to use a parody song at a corporate event or in a serious video--but using parody songs to communicate or review key messaging isn't just a one-note wonder (ehhem...). They're a smart, brain-based way to engage the audience with the content; at an event, in a video, online, or in person.
Think back to when we were kids; the most important building blocks in education were taught...through song. The "ABC's" and "1-2-Buckle my Shoe" were instrumental in getting toddlers reading and counting. Programs like School House Rock taught older children about everything from conjunctions to the process behind being a "bill on capital hill". Simply put, music and songs can help us learn--and that doesn't stop in childhood (nor does it need to stop outside the door of a corporate event).
Parody and learning songs are captivating. They:
- Engage both the creative and pragmatic areas of the brain.
- Promote a positive learning experience.
- Manipulate an audience's emotional state (try frowning while listening to a Sousa march).
- Are a novelty that captures attention.
- Can stick in your head (talk about message reinforcement!).
- Are just plain fun--to listen to AND to write.
For instance, be sure to turn up your volume and take a look (and listen!) at this video that we wrote and produced for Transamerica's SecurePath--designed to educate visitors to their website about applying for Social Security:
We used opera in this example because it was appropriate for the subject matter and the audience, but we've also done parodies of popular songs, classics, oldies, etc.
Now that's NOT just information about Social Security as usual.
Eddie the Eagle on the E4 Blog
Our Submission to Meetings Mean Business
While we come at this issue from a slightly different perspective, we also decided to submit our own video--highlighting why corporate meetings are critical--both for the travel industry AND for corporations.
Take a look at one of our AniMated characters giving his perspective:
And the Emmy Goes to...
Hoofy and Boo are the character creations of Minyanville--a next-generation digital media company that creates branded content to inform, educate and entertain all generations about the world of finance. The bull (Hoofy) and bear (Boo) of Wall Street, Hoofy and Boo are dedicated to reporting the latest financial news of the world in a witty, informed, and often irreverent format.
Hoofy and Boo are brought to life by Live Spark and are examples of Live Spark's AniMates. This unique animation technique allows for quick production on each 2-minute segment--essential when rolling out 2 episodes a week; one for Fox Business Channel and the other for Yahoo! Finance (all episodes are housed and replayed on Minyanville's own site). Episodes are also assembled through Live Spark, and go through an extensive post-production process adding in all graphics, sound and additional media content.
Click here to watch episodes of "World in Review with Hoofy and Boo".
[Click on image below to make larger.]
From the Minyanville News Release:
Minyanville Media Wins Emmy
“Minyanville’s World in Review With Hoofy and Boo” Wins Award For Business and Financial Reporting
New York, Dec 2- Minyanville Media, the fast growing financial information and entertainment company today won a Business and Financial Reporting Emmy for its animated news show “Minyanville’s World In Review with Hoofy and Boo”.
The show was honored by The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, in the New Approaches to Financial Reporting category for its groundbreaking weekly show starring the animated icons of finance, Hoofy The Bull and Boo The Bear.
“It is a humbling honor for us, to be recognized as a leader of business news reporting,” said Minyanville Founder and CEO Todd Harrison. “ We continue to do our part in helping narrow the gap between what people know about managing their money and what they need to know, “ he added.
The show, which is an entertaining and educational look at the world of business, money and the financial markets runs on Minyanville’s fast growing web site, www.minyanville.com. It also runs on Yahoo Finance each week and ran weekly on The Fox Business Network.
Hoofy and Boo could not be reached for comment as they were taking a meeting with their new agents.
To view episodes of “Minyanville’s World In Review With Hoofy and Boo” visit www.minyanville.com/mvtv
“Minyanville’s World In Review With Hoofy and Boo”
David Stewart [With Live Spark]
Brendan Stern [With Live Spark]
Minyanville is a next-generation digital media company that creates branded content to inform, educate and entertain all generations about the world of finance.
Led by a cast of animated "Critters" – including Hoofy the Bull and Boo the Bear – Minyanville uses a combination of smart analysis and entertainment to highlight the need for better financial understanding. Targeting segments at all stages – from kids to the most sophisticated professional investors – Minyanville reaches its audiences through their Buzz and Banter subscription product, a website (www.minyanville.com) attracting nearly 1.5 million monthly unique visitors and content distribution deals with Yahoo! Finance, T.D Ameritrade, Dow Jones MarketWatch, Bloomberg, AOL, MSN and others. They have the first and only animated business news show "Minyanville's World In Review" that premieres weekly on Yahoo! Finance. The show was recently nominated for an Emmy. Minyanville "professors" are regulars on Fox Business Network, CNBC and Nightly Business Network. Meanwhile, the company is reaching more than 280,000 kids through an educational virtual world at www.minyanland.com.
Getting Tooned Up
Reposted from the MouseKingdom Blog:
For those who have seen real-time animation at the popular Disney attractions—“Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor” and “Turtle Talk With Crush”—take note. Here’s a clip that shows how Disney utilized the same type of interactive technology almost ten years prior to featuring it in their attractions.
The following video is a sample of what Disney did at a tradeshow for cable television executives. Toon Disney was just launching its cable station and wanted to expose the tradeshow attendees to their channel. They offered a draw in the booth; where the attendees could become “Tooned Up” (turned into a cartoon character) and walk away with a tape of their experience.
In the Disney booth, there was an area where an attendee could sit down and look at an off-screen monitor. There, the attendees saw themselves AND a real-time computer animated character that was digitally inserted into the video. The attendee was also wearing a microphone headset that contained a sensor that transmitted the position of their head and relayed movements to a computer. Hidden from the attendees was an actor performing the character’s voice and movements (interacting with the attendee) and a technician who operated the computer controls to change the attendee’s “Tooned Up” appearance; gender, hair color, skin color, etc.
The end result was magic—but then again, what else would you expect from Disney?
The attendees received a copy of their interaction with the real-time character and of their own transformation from person to Toon to take home to their colleagues and families.
It goes to show you that Disney has been ahead of the curve– seeking out ways to interact with their audience for years in the virtually animated world.
Note: Video provided courtesy of Live Spark; the company responsible for the animation technology.