Sex in the Sky: Employment Branding is “Fun” Again!

Kathy Rapp Culture, Kathy Rapp

Air New Zealand is at it again!  As if the body painting safety briefing, the Bare Essentials of Safety, was not far enough out of the Black Box (note: video IS suitable for all ages) they recently completed their first Matchmaking Flight.  That’s right; the mile-high club has promoters over at Air New Zealand!

The concept was simple – after a pre-party at the gate, take 100 North American singles from L.A. toMileHighClubPane_PR460 Auckland complete with party games, bubbly and chocolate covered strawberries (side question:  who thinks c-c-strawberries are romantic?  Seriously – you bite into one and have strawberry seeds and pulp in your teeth and chocolate all over your shirt!  Very sexy.) and then a big bash upon arriving in New Zealand.  Sounds like a fun trip huh, especially since those Kiwis know how to party!  The slight cheese factors were the “celebrity” hosts – Jason Mesnick and Molly Malaney.  What?  You don’t know these up-and-comer celebrities?!!  For shame.

The airline said the matchmaking flight fits with their mission, “to make flying fun again”.  Hmmm.  Texas-based Southwest Airlines (LUV) – don’t you know ANZ wants their stock symbol – is all about fun too, but they just let their crew members crack jokes and throw peanuts at you.

OK – so what does all of this have to do with HR?  Well, Air New Zealand has just done a ton to reinforce its employment brand.  Think about it, where else can you get naked to give a compliance talk AND plan a singles party at 30,000 feet?  The other really smart thing they did – promoted it all via social networking.  They launched a microsite,, posted party music on, had Twitter Travel Tips and KiWeets, a mobile device site, a game – Flitterwings and a Facebook site called, “Rattle Ya Dags” where you can send Kiwiana gifts to all your new Kiwi friends.  The flight has long since landed, yet there is a ton of traffic on these sites.

Not only has this airline continued to “rise above the clutter of airline advertising” but they have also created interest in working for the company – not to mention excitement for the current employees who were selected to take part in the event.  Where else would it be considered “work” to learn a preflight dance to Beyonce’s Single Ladies?!!  A brilliant example of how HR and Marketing should work together for the greater good of an organization.

So, what’s your opinion?  Was this pure branding (marketing AND employment) genius or simply sex in the sky?

Kathy Rapp

Kathy Rapp is the CEO of hrQ where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent for permanent or project roles across the country. Prior to joining hrQ Kathy booked more than 15 years of diverse HR leadership experience working in F500s and start-up organizations. A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent insights can be gleamed from the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen and AC/DC.