Philippine airline dance video triggers mixed reaction

Viral video of dancing flight attendants on Cebu Pacific incurs wrath of women's lobby group but analyst says move can boost airline's brand awareness and mend country's tainted tourism industry.
Written by Melvin G. Calimag, Contributor

MANILA--A YouTube video showing Filipino flight attendants dancing to demonstrate the airline's flight safety procedure has piqued the interest of more than 8 million viewers worldwide and put much spotlight on the airline and the Philippines.

The video has prompted government officials to conduct an inquiry to determine if the low-cost airline, Cebu Pacific, violated aviation safety regulations in the dancing stunt.

Local women's advocacy group, Gabriela, also criticized the airline as "sexist" for allowing its flight attendants to sway to the tune of Lady Gaga's Just Dance in front of passengers.

An employee association at Philippine Airlines, which is Cebu Pacific's main rival in the local aviation industry, said the move had obliterated the gains of the labor movement and pushed the industry back to the 1960's and 1970s when stewardesses were made to wear skimpy outfits to cater to the mostly male business travelers.

However, a sociologist noted that while the video would appear offensive to "moralists", others might view it as entertaining and a novel approach of an otherwise boring routine.

Dekki Morales, who teaches sociology at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, said: "People have different opinions whether or not the flight attendants were treated as sex objects, but what's worth noting here is the use of technology [and the Internet] to gather feedback from the public at almost no cost."

Indeed, analyst firm XMG Global said the viral video might just have saved millions of advertising money for Cebu Pacific, helping the airline create brand recognition across millions of viewers around the globe.

Its analyst Larissa Vila said: "With its obviously humorous and entertaining content, the video will prove to be one of the greatest viral videos and is expected to be copied by other companies that want to make the same Internet marketing phenomenon."

Vila added that she expects Cebu Pacific to "capitalize on the experience" in the coming weeks to retain the high level of awareness the video triggered and come up with more unique offerings.

However, she stressed that the airline must not alienate the need assure the safety of its customers in adopting such promotional activities.

Another positive impact of the hit video is its potential boost to Philippine tourism, according to fellow XMG analyst, Vincent Altez. This could be especially beneficial in view of the recent hostage-taking incident that put the country under negative spotlight internationally.

"More importantly, we believe these circumstances simply speak of the innovative minds of Filipinos as well as the level of versatility and innate talent of the country's workforce," Altez said. "This is highly relevant particularly for a country which is substantially driven by its service economy."

Melvin G. Calimag is a freelance IT writer based in the Philippines.

Editorial standards