The grass is resting: Getting customers to pay attention to your message

The grass is resting: Getting customers to pay attention to your message

When was the last time you tuned into the safety briefing on board a plane? It’s amazing to consider that even when our lives could depend on the information, we are recalcitrant with our attention!

Similarly, every day our audience battles an information tsunami. Unfortunately, it multiplies our challenges as communicators:

  • How do we grab eyeballs (attention)?
  • How do we hold on to this attention (retention); and
  • How to translate this into behaviour change? (action)

The magic mantra is attention, retention, action.

Using this magic mantra, Air New Zealand has managed to reinvent the tired category of airline safety videos. Every year they release a new air safety video that is pretty much guaranteed to go viral.

They have had director Peter Jackson appearing in a Hobbit-themed version called An Unexpected Briefing and another one with Golden Girl Betty White starring in Safety Old School Style, and (my personal favourite!) US fitness personality Richard Simmons and a leotard-clad cabin crew delivering preflight safety messages

Their most recent video featuring bikini-clad models ‘hit political turbulence’ and ended up being pulled. Despite this the airline’s success in this arena is to be applauded.

What if your budget doesn’t stretch to singing stars and videos with high production values? Even a humble sign can be made over using imagination and humour for attention, retention and action. I recently spotted a sign while travelling overseas that instead of demanding the conventional “Keep off the grass”, simply said, “The grass is resting.”

Touché. Attention, retention and action – all with a humble sign.


Yamini Naidu is a global thought leader in storytelling and business communication. She is a director at, and was previously a director at One Thousand & One, a company she co-founded in 2004.

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