Video of the day: Air New Zealand’s Economy Skycouch, sheep, and David Hasselhoff

A commercial for Air New Zealand’s Economy Skycouch might not be what you would expect in a Video of The Day post, but truly, these guys have outdone themselves on this one. Bound to be an internet hit, the airline is using the finest of all tools to promote their new comfy seating options: comedy. Air New Zealand has now launched a video series on YouTube starring a pair of inseparable sheep, Mason and Jason. But that’s not all. This quirky little ad features none other than Mr. David Hasselhoff riding a playground pony.

The product: a trio of seats forming an Economy couch. The news of these seats is actually kind of old (we covered it in January 2010), but the videos are new. These seats are, of course, a coveted resting post for bleary-eyed travelers and a loveseat for in-air lovebirds, but the question remains… does this or doesn’t this help expand the membership of the Mile High Club? (And how much does that even matter for this cozy tradeoff?).

Mixed Messages, Part II: The role of the flight attendant

It’s almost embarrassing to admit that the short, comical (and obviously very powerful) JetBlue video that I noticed on a recent flight left me with so much food for thought. Maybe it’s the fact that a stick figure chased a little red dot into the overhead compartment … I’m not sure. What does matter is that it had an effect. In addition to noticing the opportunity for increased service with no expense, it also occurred to me that the flight attendant is being positioned as a service employee … rather than the final arbiter of the rules or safety czar.
This made me think: how secondary is the service role to the primary safety responsibility of these airline employees? We’ve all seen plenty of commercials with smiling flight attendants eager to please their passengers. Yet, we have yet to see an airline invest its marketing dollars in a 30-second spot chronicling the exploits of the heroic flight attendant.

But, wouldn’t that be a great idea?

Think of how it would play out … a la David Hasselhoff with a torpedo buoy, red shorts and a mission to save a life. We’d see her (or him) burst forth from the galley, flotation device in hand and a determined look on her face (wow, this really is starting to sound like a Baywatch knockoff). “Safety First,” I’d label the ad campaign, with the only service highlighted being the gallant saving of a life.

What more could you ask for? I don’t know about you, but C.J. running up the aisle to guide the passengers sitting in the exit row is a pretty compelling reason to choose an airline.

Or, we could all face the fact that the service aspect of the gig isn’t really as secondary as it seems.

Riga, Latvia: the best place you’ve never been

A lot has changed since the Cold War ended. If this is news to you, please stop reading immediately. You don’t want to drink water from a fire hose. But, if you are in fact aware that the Berlin Wall fell (and that David Hasselhoff provided the soundtrack, to the joy of Germans and the chagrin of Americans), then keep going. You’re about to find out why you need to get out to Riga, Latvia.

The days of bugged hotel room phones may be in the past, but you can still see the equipment used to defend the Eastern Bloc against the evils of capitalism at the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia – a name that makes clear how welcome the Russian’s were in this corner of the world. However, these devices are notably absent from the , now a primo site in what is sometimes called the Paris of the Baltics.

Cruise along Albert Street to enjoy the city’s architectural high-points, including facades adorned with serpents, birds, flowers and female faces. German, Austrian and Finnish influences converge on this small nation to create a unique blend that is hard to find anywhere else. With cobblestone under foot, you will soak in the history of this city, and this country, through the faces of its buildings.

Stop by the Central Market while you’re in Riga. It occupies five old Zeppelin hangars, with each representing a different food group: meat, fish, dairy, bread and produce. Also, stop by Laima, the country’s top local chocolate-maker, and make sure you leave room in your bags to bring some home.

When the Iron Curtain was pulled back, we celebrated, and we moved on. Many of the countries once obstructed from view were merely forgotten. Remember them, and add them to our itinerary. As time passes, relics of the communist era will be supplanted by the latest iteration of modernity. The clock is ticking.

Oh, and don’t speak Russian!

Berlin celebrates 20 years of wall’s collapse

The Berlin Wall was pulled down 20 years ago, giving birth to a new industry: selling pieces of the Berlin Wall. Remember that? Well, all the pieces were probably bought long ago (well, except the “real” one that you picked up last week, of course), but there is still plenty you can do to celebrate. The list of cultural events is long and impressive, like the German translation of a short word in English. So, take a look at what Berlin has to offer.

Long Night of Museums lets you visit 100 museums will be open from 6 PM Saturday until 2 AM on Sunday every weekend from January 31 to August 29.

Take in the 59th Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) from February 5 to February 15; more than 400 films will be screened, many of them European premieres.

At the Festival Days at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Wagner’s Lohengrin opera will be staged, and other classical music performances will be available from April 4 to April 12.

Enjoy even more of the cultural stuff at the Extended Opera and Theatre Night on April 25. Half-hour events are available from 7 PM to 10 AM on 60 stages, and buses take visitors from theater to theater.

Other events include:

  • Berlin’s Lesbian and Gay Street Festival, June 20-21, and Christopher Street Day, June 27
  • Fete de la Musique, June 21, free concerts on over 50 open-air stages throughout Berlin
  • Jewish Cultural Days, Aug 29-Sep 6
  • Classic Open Air Berlin, July 2-6; opera, classical music
  • Berlin International Beer Festival, Aug 7-9, when Karl-Marx-Allee turns into the world’s longest beer garden and bar, with 190 breweries offering beer along a mile-long stretch
  • Real Berlin Marathon, Sep 19-20, a 42-km run
  • Festival of Lights, Oct 13-25; fireworks, light shows
  • JazzFest Berlin, Nov 5-8, with big bands and international jazz stars

Noticeably absent from the agenda: David Hasselhoff.
[Via Toronto Sun]