Sports Illustrated models used in Air New Zealand's airline safety video sparks criticism

Should sex be used to sell air safety?

Air New Zealand's new safety video it calls “the world’s most beautiful safety video” --featuring Sports Illustrated swimsuit models cavorting around in bikinis --has been blasted for being "highly sexualized."

“Safety in Paradise” uses some of the biggest names in the modeling industry, including Christie Brinkley, Chrissy Teigen and Jessica Gomes, and is part of a new partnership between the airline and the iconic magazine franchise, according to a recent press release.

Shot on beaches of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, is shows Teigen, for example, illustrating the proper way to fasten a seat belt --while in a beach chair. Brinkley, 60, who appears in a white-hot bikini, shows how to turn off electronic devices.

The airline, known for its viral videos, released the video to mark the 50th anniversary of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition.

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    Jodi Williams, head of global brand development for Air New Zealand says that “working with the Sports Illustrated franchise…was a phenomenal opportunity to further lift the airline's brand on the global stage and to promote a key Pacific Island destination the airline has been flying to for more than 40 years.”

    But Deborah Russell, feminist commentator at New Zeland's Massey University, said that "highly sexualized" images shouldn't be used to project a message about safety, reports the Telegraph.

    "My concern is that as a woman I get on a plane to go to a business meeting say - something serious - and I am confronted by women in bikinis in what are highly sexualized images" Russell said."That jars."

    The airline says that it is tasteful.

    "Safety in Paradise has been tested extensively with a cross-section of customers and staff to ensure we strike the right balance between entertainment and conveying important safety messages," a spokeswoman told New Zeland's Herald.

    The airline hopes that the video will “not only engage customers more than ever in core safety messages but drive passenger traffic” on new services available in 2014, according to its release.

    The carrier's other in-flight safety videos include a Hobbit-themed video and others featuring stars such as Bear Grylls and Betty White.

    The official video is not available until Feb. 12, but the thoughtful crew at Air Zealand posted a teaser trailer with a few of its stars. Check it out below.

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