I have seen the Virgin America airline safety video several times in the past few weeks. It’s a great video, and it’s not annoying to watch (yet), which is amazing. Most importantly, it actually seems to get people’s attention so that they can receive the information it wants to convey.

As a kid, I remember flying and watching extremely boring safety videos that I would soon learn to tune out: someone demonstrating how to buckle a seatbelt, etc.

I never actually stopped to question whether they had to be dull, and I don’t think anybody else did, either. But it turns out that as long as you convey each item that ICAO regulations require, it doesn’t matter how you do your safety demonstration.

Aside from the video being interesting to watch, one other nice principle it illustrates is that businesses actually have a lot of latitude in how they want to relate to their customers. If there’s this much flexibility in how critical safety information can be communicated, imagine how much could be done with everything else. The insincere, dull, insipid, or overly aggressive tone of 99% of the advertising materials we consume is a choice made by those businesses, not a necessary outcome of the communication process.

As another example, check out the Southwest Airlines safety video rap and safety video comedy routine. I guess Southwest doesn’t have a video they show, but their cabin attendants are given latitude to be human toward the passengers. Why couldn’t we give similar latitude in most of the communication we produce?