Cebu Air Inc. flight attendants twirl seat belts and spin round in life jackets as Lady Gaga’s song “Just Dance” blares out over aircraft speakers.
The video of a pre-takeoff safety demonstration, posted on YouTube on Sept. 30, has drawn more than 8 million hits and been covered by CNN and Fox News, generating publicity for the carrier as it seeks 23.3 billion pesos ($538 million) in the Philippines’ largest initial public offering in 5 years.
The clip was recorded by a passenger and wasn’t a move by the Manila-based airline to drum up interest in its share sale, said Candice Iyog, vice president for marketing.
“The timing though is impeccable,” she said. The carrier, the Philippines’ largest budget airline, will have the dance on other services, she said. The IPO shares were priced today at 125 pesos apiece, in the middle of the target range.
The video may also help revive the local tourism industry following international media coverage of a fatal 10-hour bus hijacking in Manila, according to the government. Thousands of Chinese holidaymakers canceled trips after eight tourists from Hong Kong were killed in the Aug. 23 incident.
“People will see that this is a singing country, a dancing country,” Philippine Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim said in an interview. “It will help persuade people to come here.”
The nation, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, many fringed with fine-sand beaches and coral reefs, is working to double tourism arrivals in six years to help spur economic growth. Last year, it drew 3 million tourists, about a 10th of the number that visited Malaysia, according to Philippine government data and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Carriers have previously used gimmicks to liven up pre-flight safety announcements and draw publicity. A Southwest Airlines Co. steward rapping a preflight announcement was also posted on YouTube. Air New Zealand Ltd. has made flight-safety videos featuring naked crew in painted-on uniforms and another with international rugby players.
Three Cebu Air male attendants today danced the drill to “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats on a Manila-Davao City flight piloted by women, Iyog said. “We’re an equal opportunity carrier.”
Cebu Air and parent JG Summit Holdings Inc. are selling 186.64 million new and existing shares in the IPO. They may also exercise an overallotment option for a further 28 million shares. The IPO, the Philippines’ largest since SM Investments Corp. raised 28.8 billion pesos in 2005, will help fund expansion plans and new aircraft.
Cebu Air, which has a fleet of 29 planes, employs about 600 attendants and plans to hire another 300. It regularly runs games and competitions in flight to entertain passengers.
The company made a first-half profit of $68.4 million, according to its IPO prospectus. It also carried more passengers than larger rival Philippines Airlines Inc. on domestic routes in the period. Philippine Air is tackling a labor dispute with attendants and a pilot shortage.
The Lady Gaga dance may help Cebu Air sell tickets, while having little impact on IPO demand, said Jonathan Ravelas, a strategist at Banco de Oro Unibank in Manila.
“An investor’s decision to buy shares depends on the price and earnings outlook -- not on how well the airline stewardesses can gyrate,” he said.