Wow. I recently flew Continental/United for the first time in many years. I found my seat, got situated and waited a thankfully short time for takeoff. Being a Southwest flyer, I expected a steward or stewardess to come out and give us a witty take on safety precautions. However, as we started taxiing to the runway, a pre-recorded video caught me by surprise. It was a disaster on the brink of success. Let me explain.
Unrelatable talking heads
First, it was a talking head video. For those who don't know what a talking head video is, it's basically a video that features a single person, usually an indistinguishable executive in a nondescript suit, talking at the camera. No action. No quick movements. Just an executive, you and some talking points. There's a reason these videos have been fodder for satire for decades. They're ubiquitous, usually self-aggrandizing and rarely engaging. This video was no exception.
Doesn't my logo make you feel special?
Second, the background behind the executive of this particular video was a giant company logo. Nothing says "customers first" like a monolithic reminder of who's talking at you, right? YOU WILL HEAR THE MESSAGE FROM THE COMPANY. Perhaps I'm surprised because my usual airline takes such a lighthearted, friendly approach in comparison.
Copywriting for the boardroom
Third, the language was total corporate-speak. Phrases like "co-located facilities," "earn your business" and "your having chosen us" ooze a boardroom-first mindset. They take passengers out of what will hopefully be an enjoyable (read tolerable) flying experience by reminding them that their real value is as carefully segmented revenue streams.
Right message, wrong delivery
That said, the video was actually just a shade away from being a success. Despite the delivery, the video actually contained good points from a content perspective and clarified many merger questions that were probably lingering in consumers' minds. If they work on their style and presentation, this easily-lampooned video could be transformed into an informative winner.
What can we learn from this?
1) Use a relatable spokesperson. Hint: This probably doesn't mean an old white executive in a suit.
2) Give your set/background serious consideration. Hint: Big logos are like the blind date that never stops talking about him or herself.
3) Make sure your copywriter is writing for your core consumer, not your executive suite. Hint: If your mom doesn't know what it means, it's probably corporate-speak.