Ad Nut
Feb 26, 2024

Air India soars above the mundane with new in-flight safety campaign

Ascending above the monotony of routine onboard safety videos, the film, crafted by McCann Worldgroup, takes India's diverse fabric and creative prowess to greater altitudes.

What is it with humans and your urge to travel? 

Don't get Ad Nut wrong—the joy of journeying is one this squirrel greatly favours, particularly during the more shivery months. But it's not quite the same endeavour, is it? While woodland creatures seem to have mastered the art of migration and bounding from tree to tree to traverse lands, humans seem to need these giant flying metal tubes to cart themselves around in. And whilst there are no billowing plumes of smoke that trail behind as they soar, from what Ad Nut has heard, these tubes aren't that great for the woodlands either. 

But alas, Ad Nut can't lament humans too much for doing whatever they can to witness the wonders of the earth. After all, our globe is a canvas of splendid vistas and tantalising mysteries, not unlike the vast oak forests that Ad Nut calls home (think plenty of acorns and adventures). 

Into this world of wanderlust and winged steel birds enters a new campaign by Air India. Entitled "Safety Mudras," it aims to capture the essence of travel and the spirit of exploration, but with a twist. The film is actually an in-flight safety video, taking you through a kaleidoscopic journey of India's rich cultural tapestry, and sewn together with a showcase of India's most ancient and traditional dance forms. 

Over the centuries, Indian classical dance and folk art have often served as channels for storytelling and guidance—still seen widely through mediums such as theatre and cinema in India. The Air India film taps into this very ethos, combining safety instructions with mudras (gestures or expressions), and utilising them to highlight eight distinct dance forms: Bharatnatyam, Bihu, Kathak, Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Odissi, Ghoomar, and Giddha. Each form conveys a specific safety instruction, presenting essential information in an interactive and culturally vibrant manner.

 The video begins with a welcome from an Air India cabin crew member to a young female passenger, directing her attention to the Air India 'vista'—a golden window frame introduced last year as part of the airline's new global brand identity. As the passenger playfully explores the 'vista' a captivating cultural display unfolds.

The initial act showcases Bharatnatyam as a platform to illustrate seat belt and cabin baggage instructions. The narrative then transitions to Odissi against the seashores, conveying the procedures for securing seats and tray tables. Kathakali and Mohiniyattam follow, articulating the prohibition of electronic gadgets and smoking on board, set against the backwaters of Kerala. Kathak takes center stage to demonstrate emergency exits and the proper deployment of oxygen masks. Then Bihu dancers from Assam showcase safety jacket instructions, while Ghoomar in Jaipur adds a touch to the synergy of safety and culture. The journey concludes in the fields of Punjab, where Gidda dancers emphasise the significance of the safety card onboard.

"Safety Mudras" is actualised through the collaboration of a notable trio of India's creative talents over a six-month period: Prasoon Joshi, celebrated writer, lyricist, and CEO of McCann Worldgroup india and chairman of APAC; Shankar Mahadevan, Grammy award-winning singer and composer; and Bharatbala, accomplished film director and screenwriter. 

“Tasked with the challenge to create a concept that keeps passengers engaged, embody Indian culture and elevate the Air India brand globally, we went to great lengths to poise the essential and the evocative. Indian classical dance forms have one unique dimension: Storytelling. And that is what made me think of this idea of using these Indian dance forms to deliver the safety instructions for air travel. It’s indeed a matter of pride for McCann to work with Air India," said Joshi in a press release. 

"As a flagbearer of the country and a longstanding patron of Indian art and culture, Air India is delighted to present a work of art that is designed to deliver essential safety instructions while showcasing India’s rich cultural diversity to travellers around the world. Our guests will find this inflight safety video to be more immersive and informative, and a warm welcome to India from the moment they step onboard," added Campbell Wilson, CEO and managing director, Air India.

The safety video will be initially accessible exclusively on Air India’s recently introduced A350 aircraft before being deployed on other fleets.

As for Ad Nut, this squirrel appreciates the ingenuity behind this endeavour. The strength of the campaign lies in its innovative fusion of safety and culture—a rare move that educates and entertains. It's a warm, welcoming gesture akin to finding a nut buried under a blanket of snow—a surprise that delights and nourishes. After all, anyone who has experienced air travel understands the tedium of conventional onboard safety videos, regardless of their importance to human safety. It's refreshing not only to break through this monotony but also to witness the portrayal of one of the world's oldest cultures and countries in a way that highlights its extensive diversity and richness. Ad Nut might just have been convinced to book a trip soon.

Just one solitary thorn in this creative branch: Ad Nut contemplates whether the campaign's distinctiveness could also potentially be its Achilles' heel. Despite its beauty and intricacy, considering the gravity of flying is a matter involving life and death, Ad Nut wonders if the captivating dances inadvertently divert attention away from essential safety messages. Is there a chance that passengers, entranced by the performance, might overlook the critical instructions intended to safeguard them?

Just a minor point to bear in mind and perhaps reinforce with jet-setting enthusiasts onboard as they take their travels to new and bolder heights.


Conceptualisation: Prasoon Joshi of McCann Worldgroup India
Music: Shankar Mahadevan
Director: Bharatbala
Director of photography: Marc Koninckx
Choreographer: Brinda Master

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.


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