Air New Zealand: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly…

It appears Air New Zealand just can’t help itself. Determined to stay ahead of the competition, it continually heads out on a limb with innovative and creative advertising and branding.

As a result,  in the last few months it has been simultaneously been praised and denigrated for it’s ‘good, bad, and ugly’ actions.

What’s good?

First, it won the coveted Airline of the Year award (the airline industry’s version of the Oscar) at the Air Transport World Global Airline Awards.

Soon after, Air New Zealand unveiled it‘s plans to have the world’s first economy class bed-seat available on its long haul services by the end of the year. These ‘sky couch economy seats’ sound great but whether they will win favor with the public remains to be seen. I see one major hiccup to the concept – these sky couches or ‘cuddle couches’ are really only designed for two passengers who are willing to also purchase the third seat (at half price) that makes up the couch.



What’s Bad?

Air New Zealand is determined to push the boundaries with it’s video ad campaigns. It’s ‘nothing to hide’ video featuring naked staff covered only in body paint caused some controversy when it was released last year.

But that’s nothing compared to the strife Air New Zealand got into with it‘s ‘cougar‘ online promotion that involved having mature single women (35+) enter a draw for flights and tickets to a sporting event.

To enter, the women were required to send in photos of themselves out on the town with their ‘cougar’ mates. It’s was meant to be a light-hearted play on a recent society phenomena. Instead, it was attacked by both women’s and men’s groups as inappropriate and denigrating to women.

What’s Ugly?

Air New Zealand is not only overhauling it’s seating. It’s also overhauling it’s uniforms, with the new outfits designed by New Zealand fashion designer Trelise Cooper.

The airline is calling the new design ‘contemporary’. But media reports are indicating that many of Air New Zealand staff are not impressed, with some saying that the shocking pink dresses make them look more like drag queens than flight attendants.

Then there’s the issue of the design pattern itself, with one leading Maori academic stating that these new uniforms are disrespecting Maori culture by misusing the curly patterns.

What’s next?

Of course, no one can predict the future (except maybe Air New Zealand’s Airpoints Fairy), but I’m willing to bet that whatever Air New Zealand has up it’s sleeve next, it’s bound not only entertaining but also mostly likely controversal.

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