Air New Zealand’s latest in-flight safety video had a bumpy take-off over objections to its sexual imagery. Called “the world’s most beautiful safety video,” it features bikini-clad models from Sports Illustrated and coincides with that magazine’s 50th anniversary.
The video, which can be viewed here, shows four models at a beach on the Cook Islands in between shots of the island’s scenery and locals in traditional dress. Christie Brinkley, one of the world’s first supermodels, also makes a cameo from Los Angeles where she is seen admiring a shirtless man.
Lecturer and feminist commentator, Deborah Russell, who had enjoyed some of Air New Zealand’s videos in the past, told Fairfax Newspapers that she has no intention of watching the airline’s latest offering.
“My concern is that as a woman I get on a plane to go to a business meeting say – something serious – and I am confronted by women in bikinis in what are highly sexualized images. That jars,” she said.
Former politician and journalist, Pam Corkery, wrote in an op-ed in The New Zealand Herald that the video was “a load of garbage” and complained that it did nothing to promote tourism in her home country.
Not everyone found the video offensive. The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation praised the video for giving “valuable exposure for the Cooks.”
“It’s not just about the international models, although they definitely add glamor,” said general manager Graeme West. “The video showed local men, women and children in a typically good-natured, good-humored and tasteful Cook Islands manner.”
New Zealand Airlines has been praised in the past over the creativity of its in-flight videos, which have given a PR boost to the New Zealand tourism industry and have included appearances by the All Blacks rugby team and eight of their staff in hand painted flight uniforms. The company’s biggest success came in 2012 before The Hobbit, which was filmed in New Zealand, was released. Actors appeared on camera dressed up as hobbits, orcs and elves to demonstrate safety techniques. The video garnered more than 11 million views on YouTube.
“We know that we actually get our customers watching and interpreting and internalizing our safety messages, better than I would argue anyone else, because we get their attention with the video,” Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon said during CNN’s Executive Innovator feature series before the Sports Illustrated safety video was released.