What Every Marketer Should Remember From WestJet’s Christmas Surprise

By: Sofie De Beule

December 24, 2013

holiday advertising

WestJet Airline (a Canadian low-cost airline) received a lot of praise since it came up with a really clever marketing campaign that surprised numerous unknowing travelers with their favorite Christmas gifts. The entire campaign was captured on video accompanied by a catchy tune reminiscent of ‘The Night Before Christmas’.

While travelers were waiting to board their flights to Calgary at the Toronto and Hamilton International airports, Santa spoke to them personally on a screen after they scanned their boarding pass. He asked the travelers what they really wanted for Christmas, and answers varied from simple boots or underwear to tablets and even a big screen TV.

No one expected what happened next. WestJet took good note of everything and brilliantly orchestrated the entire Christmas wish list. Like Santa’s little elves, more than 150 WestJet employees gathered every single personalized present in numerous shops, wrapped them, and had the gifts delivered on the baggage claim at their arrival.

What strikes us the most is how WestJet was able to create this memorable moment focusing on both existing and potential customers. Campaigns like these, especially with the aspect of real-time giving, are rare. The combination of all the crucial elements make this campaign a true Christmas miracle.
Every marketer should ask themselves – in the hunt for the next viral campaign – ‘how can we create even more brilliant campaigns in the future?’.
Take a look at these 3 essential components for your next creative campaign:
  • Meet people’s emotions in real-time
People’s reactions in the video truly speak volumes. WestJet’s surprise invoked many emotional reactions, as facial expressions like that are hard to fake. Genuine emotions add a huge level of authenticity to your campaign, and the holiday season is the perfect moment to tap into them. ‘Sharing is caring’, as a lot of people got touched by the event and wanted to share the campaign on their personal social channels.
  • Hit with an element of surprise on the right moment
The most important value of this campaign is the ‘x-factor’. The unexpected events really set the WestJet campaign apart from much of the holiday inspired advertising. It’s clearly obvious that the unexpectedness of the campaign also adds an emotional level to it. Choosing the right moment to introduce the element of surprise is key!
  • Don’t lose your existing customers’ focus
Brand awareness is obviously a big part of creative campaigns like these. However, creatives often forget to target a company’s existing customers. As WestJet didn’t want to attract new customers with their splurge of gifts, their goal was to reward travelers that were already flying WestJet. The kind of emotional connection WestJet made with this campaign will hopefully last a life-time.

Let’s hope more creative geniuses can spoil us with these kind of surprises in 2014! But in any case, Happy Holidays! 🙂