Virgin America Makes A Safety Video That’s Now A YouTube Hit

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Last week, Virgin America launched of all things, a safety video that has become a YouTube hit with now more than 4 million views. It’s a musical that makes buckling a seat beat seem like fun. It celebrates the experience of flying with a focus on the fundamentals of safety that only a company like Virgin can pull off.

Virgin America has to show its passengers safe practices for flying. It’s the law but there is no Federal Aviation (FAA) rule that says the damn things have to be something that reminds us of some soulless bureaucracy  Instead, the video has lots of dancing, a kid rapping about an oxygen mask and a misbehaving nun. Here’s what went into making it.

Few companies have the musical roots that Virgin has. It’s that background which gave the company its hook for the video. But it’s also the company’s focus on the customer that gives Virgin an edge. They want the experience to be different for Virgin customers than it is on other airlines.

Of course, a music video is not the only way to connect with customers. But that customer connection never comes when people are viewed as capital or described as a commodity.

Virgin reminds me of companies with a culture that invents new ways of connecting with people. Tesla Motors, for instance, build their own IT so they can make cars in ways other car manufacturers can’t do. What results is a car that people covet. Tesla has a passionate focus on making cars that people love to drive. They are first and foremost, appealing to customers more than anything else.

Consider the world we live in and it’s sometimes astounding how little fun there is in the way the enterprise treats its customers. “Big data” helps feed “human capital management” “solutions.” “Social media” is a cure all and “private clouds” help technology companies sell hardware for what amounts to glorified data centers.

The terms are just meaningless. Maybe it’s time to ditch the mumbo jumbo double speak and just get up and dance.