Pam Corkery: Aussie mirth proves Air NZ got it wrong

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Latest safety video is a load of garbage - and it's not even about our country.

Models from Sports Illustrated feature in the latest Air New Zealand safety video, which focuses on the Cook Islands and has critics hot under the collar.
Models from Sports Illustrated feature in the latest Air New Zealand safety video, which focuses on the Cook Islands and has critics hot under the collar.

Our national airline's new safety video is far removed from the New Zealand I care about. Hell, it's not even about New Zealand.

Safety in Paradise is a promotion for the Cook Islands which will play on all Air New Zealand's international and domestic flights from the end of the month.

While the video isn't ineffective publicity, it's still a load of mildewed garbage, starring four Sports Illustrated models in bikinis on a beach - surely the default setting of an unoriginal person in charge of a sketch pad.

But sex will always sell. I know it, you know it, and news bosses know it exquisitely.

Footage of the Cook Islands shoot drew international media before the video was released.

The coverage was partly around the Sports Illustrated models, partly around a feminist criticism of the safety video, and partly on our flag-carrier's break with modern tradition of instantly viral videos that are edgy, fun and intelligent.

Earlier vids starred New Zealand heroes the All Blacks and Sir Peter Jackson plus hobbits. There's been the annoying but still creative Rico, the large travelling rat. And overseas stars Richard Simmons with octogenarian Betty White. And Snoop Dogg.

Even better, most of the videos involved Air New Zealand staff, up to 90 of them on one shoot which included a cameo by former chief executive Rob Fyfe. Good times.

There's a new boss now, Christopher Luxon, who heads Air New Zealand's six-man, one-woman group executive. Table-for-one Lorraine Murphy has the title of Air NZ's chief people officer. I want to hug her for having to make that declaration at parties.

The Cooks rely heavily on tourism so I don't mean resentment of support for our overseas compatriots. But an Air New Zealand video is not the proper vehicle for that purpose. The airline's safety guides are a publicity goldmine for this country, generating a sensational tourism byproduct.

One of Air New Zealand's five guiding principles is the championing and promotion of New Zealand, its people, and culture. The Hobbit is credited for the latest boost to our tourism figures. The Weta-made inflight movie is cute and funny and happy.

Safety in Paradise is a pale facsimile of any beautiful island resort promotion.

I'm on a hiding to nothing, and I've postponed it, to come to the issue of how women are portrayed in the video. But come I must. Yuck yuck.

Massey University feminist commentator Deborah Russell is already being caned on social media as a killjoy and a sensible-shoe wearer for saying the film-ette objectifies women and is highly sexualised.

Air New Zealand dismisses this, claiming to have produced "the world's most beautiful safety video".

Across the board, media have drawn their own conclusions and they back Miss Russell without intending to.

From TV One: "Air New Zealand's latest inflight safety video is likely to have plenty of men paying attention." Britain's Mirror shouts that Air NZ has swapped hobbits for hotties, and there are dozens of exhortations in other media for the pilots to keep their eyes on the job of flying planes.

Even the International Business Times reports that Air NZ's video will send cabin temperatures soaring.

Christie Brinkley, the star model in the video, beams in from Hollywood, calling the script "playful" and one that "may have folks on the ground reaching for their oxygen masks".

One poll in Australia on the video preview ran a vote on the tastefulness of the bikini models' inclusion. Most Australians ticked that seeing the cavorting doxies was a great laugh. Enough said. Case closed.

My late father once philosophised that if you eat enough manure you stop noticing the taste.

New Zealand is better than that.

- NZ Herald

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