Back in August 2008, I wrote a column about Virgin America, in which I called it "my new favorite airline." The company was less than a year old then, and my enthusiasm came with a few caveats -- e.g., "certain elements of Virgin America's aesthetics are a bit too over-the-top hipster-y for my taste," like "the moody purple and pink accent lighting in the cabin and annoying techno-lite music piped into the lavatories." But I mostly lavished praise on VA for its use of in-cabin digital media -- specifically, a state-of-the-art LCD seat-back touch-screen system with a smartly designed interface that not only offered the expected entertainment options, but allowed for on-demand beverage and food service. (Virgin America also went on to earn a spot on Ad Age's Digital A-List in 2011.)
One thing I didn't mention was the airline's quirky, animated safety video, which added a bit of charm and entertainment value to an otherwise perfunctory part of the boarding process. It became such a point of pride for the company that last month, when The New York Times' Matt Richtel wrote an in-depth piece about Virgin America, he quoted Luanne Calvert, Virgin's VP-marketing and communications, as saying that creating a sequel was "a key initiative for the year." Further details -- including Calvert's "I never expected to lose so much sleep over a safety video" line -- made me fear the Virgin America gang was overthinking things a bit.
Today, the airline has released its new safety video on YouTube… and, well, watch it, then scroll down for more thoughts and context.
Per Virgin America, "We've enlisted the help of Virgin Produced, Director Jon M. Chu, Choreographers Jamal Sims and Christopher Scott, Virgin America teammates, and dance stars like Todrick Hall and Madd Chadd to give our safety video a new song and dance -- literally."
The result is a high-production-value, high-spirited, five-minute clip that initially charms but then quickly becomes kind of exhausting. It's like being forced to watch "Glee" for a full five minutes.
Of course, some people wouldn't mind being forced to watch "Glee" for five minutes. And I should note that so far the reaction on Twitter seems to be pretty positive (Virgin America has concocted a hashtag, #VXsafetydance, specifically for the video).
But as a guy who flies often, I can't quite imagine being assaulted by this thing every time I'm buckling in on a Virgin America flight. And just in case you're thinking Simon Dumenco is a crank and a spoilsport, here's what my editor, Nat Ives, said when I showed it to him: "At first it was fun. But I got to 2:05 before I wanted to kill myself, with three minutes to go."
Then again, Nat Ives is originally from Vermont. (And I'm originally from Wisconsin.)
So, I dunno.
What do you think?
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.