Andre Spicer, professor of organizational behavior at Cass Business School in London, told CNBC that Air New Zealand faced some risk from the backlash.
"The important thing for companies to consider when employing humor in communications is how it gels with their brand—and this works quite well with Air New Zealand's slightly irreverent, down-to-earth branding," he said.
"But there's a risk that not all of their audience will find it so amusing," Spicer added. "A business customer from the Middle East might be shocked, as could someone who views safety of utmost importance while flying."
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A spokesperson for the airline, however, said it had been careful to ensure the "Safety in Paradise" video was tasteful.
"Naturally, given this safety video celebrates 50 years of Sports Illustrated ... it made sense to feature some of the magazine's most well-known models," Air New Zealand said in a statement.
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Indeed, a large number of customers appeared to agree, praising the video on social media.
Facebook user Graeme Lee Main posted, "It's a totally innocent non sexual, playful way of dealing with a serious subject. Well done Air New Zealand."
On Twitter, Peter Buhlev described it as the "best safety video ever."
Lynsey Sweales, CEO of social media and online marketing agency SocialB, told CNBC the video was clever marketing.
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"It's a fun way to bring a serious subject to life and has been very cleverly done," she said .
"When there's so much video content around, companies have to do something out of the ordinary to get people's attention," Sweales said. "There's a fine line when it comes to offending people, but let's not forget that people will find fault in everything."