Over the holidays, when you weren't eating sausages, perfecting your extreme hammocking or tipping a car on its roof and setting it on fire while giving the cops the fingers to celebrate the new year, you may have laid your peepers on this cougar viral that was created by the team at Grabaseat.
Online opinion is mixed as to whether the video, which has little to no relevance to Grabaseat and claims to take an unflinching look at the predatory habits of females over 35 who have an insatiable hankering for younger male flesh, was an epic, unfunny marketing fail or an OMG! ROFL! (it could've been worse: an Air New Zealand-endorsed video about males over 35 who have an insatiable hankering for younger female flesh, perhaps?)
When seen in context, however, as a competition to give 60 of the country's most voracious cougars tickets to the already sold-out NZI Sevens in Wellington (an event with a reputation for attracting weird, occasionally violating costumes) and create a cheerleading army called the Grabaseat Cougar Pride, it makes slightly more sense.
Sunil Unka, of the Grabaseat brand, says he has received a few email complaints after it sent out an EDM a few days ago, but not quite as many as expected.
"It's been a mixed reaction, but that's what we're about anyway. Niche, targeted markets, rather than the mass market. We're trying to go into areas that Air New Zealand can't or won't go into," he says.
Unka says that when Grabaseat started out it "was very much under the Air New Zealand banner". But it was made independent and is "given a little bit more rope" now. The two are still connected, of course, as Grabaseat customers are using Air New Zealand's products, but the team is attempting to create a "virtual separation".
"We're a website. That's where we're living," he says, and by and large, it's harder to shock the web-savvy than the 'general public'.
Despite the attempted quasi-disconnection, the Grabaseat video also seems to fit with the increasingly risky approach employed so successfully by Air New Zealand for the Nothing to Hide and The Bare Essentials of Safety videos (although those clips had slightly more relevance to the national carrier than predatory women and P addicts).
ZM is also on the hunt for 10 brave young male souls who will sit in the middle of cougar pack at the sevens and presumably attempt to fend off their aggressive advances.
Cougar/aviation relevance aside, the strangest thing about the whole promotion seems to be that while Grabaseat is sponsoring the Cougar Pride (so far around 20 cougar packs, with a maximum of four per pack, have entered, although the 'fresh meat' section is sorely lacking) and giving the winners tickets, costumes and equipment to make enough noise to attract the attention of the young males, the poor ladies have to pay for their own flights if they're chosen.
Unka says the lack of free flights for the cougars is simply down to plane availability, which is sad. Imagine the fun that could be had on a plane filled with cougars, with the fresh meat unable to escape. Be still my beating heart. There would certainly be no escape for the pilot. But, amazingly, Unka says it's possible that a 'Cougar Plane' could just become a reality in the future.
No doubt if the 'cougar plane' does make it into the skies, Air New Zealand will increase its chances of winning another 'airline oscar' (the national carrier was awarded airline of the year by industry publication Air Transport World recently).
Update: even Perez Hilton's put in his $0.02 about the campaign.