Greg Plata - Team Lead, Sponsorship & Experiential Marketing, WestJet
Corey Evans - Manager, Sponsorship, Community Investment & Experiential Marketing, WestJet
Richard Bartrem - Vice-President, Communications and Community Relations, WestJet
Robert Palmer - Manager, Public Relations, WestJet
Greg Hounslow - Emerging Media Advisor, WestJet
Darren Hailes - Emerging Media Coordinator, WestJet
Jamie Pacini – Sponsorship & Experiential Marketing Coordinator, WestJet
Jessica Reynolds - Sponsorship & Experiential Marketing Coordinator, WestJet
Christina Clifford - Sponsorship & Experiential Marketing Coordinator, WestJet
Video Creative and Production Agency: Mike Mills - Executive Producer, studio m
Video Creative and Production Agency: Bryan Reid – Director, studio m
Video Creative and Production Agency: Brad Cowan - Producer / Copywriter, studio m
Video Creative and Production Agency: Cameron Wyllie - Editor, studio m
Video Creative and Production Agency: Ron Zeeman - Director of Photography Nick Haraszty - Art Direc
Video Creative and Production Agency:Aaron Gaistman - Post Sound Design, studio m
Video Creative and Production Agency:Jason Ryan - Animation & Compositing, studio m
Video Creative and Production Agency:Rob Saco - Animation & Compositing, studio m
PR Agency: Whitney Gibson - Account Director, Digital, PR and Social Media, Mosaic
PR Agency: Nadine Rashad - Account Manager, Digital, PR and Social Media, Mosaic
PR Agency: Emily Wilch - Account Coordinator, Digital, PR and Social Media, Mosaic
PR Agency: Lindsay Taylor - Account Coordinator, Digital, PR and Social Media, Mosaic
PR Agency: Samantha Farnum - Account Coordinator, Digital, PR and Social Media, Mosaic
Design Agency: Ben Unsworth - Project Lead / Direction, Denis Lirette - Creative Director, Globacore
Design Agency: Matt Venhuizen - Designer, Globacore
Design Agency: John Bolton - Lead Developer Lukasz Ruminsi - Developer, Globacore
Design Agency: Grant McMillan - Project Manager, Taylor Group
|Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):||December 2013 |
|Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: ||December 9th 2013|
|Base Period as a Benchmark: ||December 2012 - Christmas Flashmob|
WestJet is Canada’s most preferred airline, offering scheduled service to more than 85 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. Through WestJet's regional airline, WestJet Encore, and with partnerships with airlines representing every major region of the world, WestJet offers guests more than 120 destinations in more than 20 countries. Top competitors are North American airlines, including Air Canada, Porter, JetBlue, SouthWest and Virgin.
While WestJet is well known by its guests for creating fun, timely consumable video content throughout the year, WestJet wanted to provide a unique live experience for guests and WestJetters (employees) and stand out amongst a greater audience during the Christmas season. The challenge in 2013 was to bring a memorable, heartwarming, and shareable “real-time giving” experience to both airline guests and employees alike.
The goal was to create, capture and share an activation whereby guests could truly witness, and interact with, WestJet’s fun and caring culture in an environment that is typically slow and dull, giving them a warm and joyful holiday experience they would share with friends and family and remember for years to come. Having executed a successful activation the previous year – The WestJet Holiday Flashmob – it was important that the 2013 holiday campaign and its surrounding communications be even more joyful and exciting to reach a larger audience with greater impact. Furthermore, a compelling idea amplified with a strong social media and communications plan were required to break through the clutter of branded holiday activations, as well as increasingly strong online content shared by both brands and consumers.
WestJet posted the WestJet Christmas Miracle: Real-Time Giving holiday video on its YouTube page on December 9, 2013, and within days it was the most shared Canadian viral ad in 2013, and among the top five globally. With the support of a strategic communications plan, and promoted posts on Twitter and Facebook, YouTube views and media impressions far exceeded program objectives, contributing to an unexpected and unprecedented increase in sales for WestJet, during the holiday period.
$100,000 - $200,000
WestJet and its partner agencies developed a strategic “real-time giving” storyline for the 2013 WestJet holiday video with the goal of capturing the hearts of target audiences and creating content that was timely and sharable. WestJet delighted unsuspecting travellers with a real-time holiday surprise that delivered personalized gifts to guests arriving at their destination.
To create buzz and lift views immediately upon launch, WestJet and its partner agency developed a strategic communications plan focused primarily on earned and owned media creating early awareness with key media, proactive media relations strategy at launch, and continued media and influencer outreach, seeding and management. Including a charitable tie-in provided incentive for early media pick-up and reinforced WestJet’s charitable, caring brand culture. Key messages and Q&A documents were developed early in the campaign and integrated throughout all communications channels and six WestJet spokespeople, which was critical for successfully owning the story throughout the campaign.
Primary: WestJet guests, Canadian business and leisure travellers,
Secondary: All WestJetters (airline staff), Canadian news, travel and lifestyle media and bloggers, and social media influencers.
While the audience for this program was quite broad, there were several key insights that played into the communication strategy development and implementation:
- Holiday travel lacks fun, with flights and airports at capacity and high stress levels. [Footnote 1 ]
- To capture the attention of media during the holiday season (a typically cluttered time for brand activations), it’s important to have a truly captivating idea in the absence of hard news. To be shareable amongst target consumers, a content-driven campaign needs to be surprising, funny, or exciting. It also must be consistent with the brand essence connecting with the consumer emotionally.[Footnote 2]
- Reports show that by sharing video content, consumers are 85 per cent more likely to make a purchase and 68 per cent of viewers will share video links - and sharing leads to brand promotion.[Footnote 3]
- It is well known that online marketing drives offline conversation and 23 per cent of conversations about a service is in reference to something they saw online. [Footnote 2]
- With social media providing media with news tips in real time, it is essential to ensure that media can easily access press releases and supporting materials so they can publish their coverage while the story is still relevant. With so many social shares driving news, brands must be proactive in owning the conversation.[Footnote 4]
- Canadians receive their first news of the day via radio and television morning shows, online, and through word of mouth
- WestJet has a reputation amongst Canadian media and consumers for creating and sharing entertaining videos through social media around holidays, such as April Fools and Christmas, as well as around charitable initiatives. This history lends credibility to WestJet when the organization has new content or news to deliver.
- Media, bloggers and social media influencers look to be among the first to share and promote great content.
WestJet delighted unsuspecting travellers with a real-time holiday surprise that delivered personalized gifts to guests arriving in Calgary via a “Virtual Santa,” a Digital Command Centre, and more than 150 volunteer WestJet employees (WestJetters), as part of a true “Christmas Miracle.” Nineteen cameras captured the emotional experience.
- On December 9, 2013, the airline unveiled the WestJet Christmas Miracle: Real-Time Giving video on its YouTube page.
- We developed an in-depth, strategic communications plan executed throughout December 2013, which included:
- Key Messages: Developed pre-launch to ensure all communication amongst traditional and social media channels, as well as spokespeople was consistent. Due to the fact that the goal was to inspire consumers and media share the content, key messages focused on why and how the activation came to be, with a specific call-to-action to share the video to spread holiday cheer and help those in needs, as a charitable donation was tied to an achievable video view goal.
- National Media Relations: At launch, we engaged in proactive media relations with news, lifestyle, trends, and travel media across the country. We announced the video through an interactive press release distributed nationally across the wire, ensuring timely media pick up and in-depth stories. The release was accompanied by the WestJet Christmas Miracle video, a blooper reel, and a b-roll interview with a WestJet spokesperson for those unable to conduct live interviews.
- Broadcast Media Tour: After listening to top radio stations to find out what morning show hosts wanted for Christmas, WestJet elves hand-delivered personalized gifts and media kits on launch day to recreate the idea of “real-time giving”. We also armed television shows across the country with flight giveaways and offered interviews with the star of the video, “Virtual Santa,” live via Skype. To drive views of the video, viewers were required to answer trivia questions about its content in order to win.
- Reactive Media Relations: Due to the volume of international media requests in the first 24 hours of launch, we initiated a reactive media relations strategy, fielding global inquiries, arranging interviews with six trained WestJet spokespeople, and monitoring coverage.
- Internal Awareness at WestJet: The initiative was promoted on the WestJet blog and other internal communications channels. Having become a source of pride at WestJet and reaffirming its fun and caring culture internally, employees created additional buzz by sharing the experience with guests, stakeholders and their personal networks.
- Charitable Partners: Once the video reached 200,000 views, WestJet and its trusted partner, Ronald McDonald House Charities, provided free flights to reunite a family in need. This reinforced WestJet’s caring brand culture, and provided additional incentive for media and consumers to share the story early at launch.
- Social Media: Promoted posts on Facebook and Twitter drove views of the video amongst media and consumers alike.
The WestJet Christmas Miracle video was filmed in Toronto, Hamilton (ON) and Calgary (AB), 2 weeks prior to launch ensuring timeliness and seasonality. Nineteen cameras captured the emotional content and the video was unveiled on the WestJet YouTube page on December 9, 2013.
Communications Goal: To stand out during the holidays, create a newsworthy and shareable national campaign that brings joy and happiness to its guests by creating a first-of-its-kind “real-time giving” experience, amplified through a strategic communications plan.
Objective: Exceed WestJet’s 2012 Holiday video campaign in media impressions (26MM) and YouTube views (500K).
Audience: Business & Leisure travellers, WestJet guests, Canadian news, travel and lifestyle media and bloggers, social media influencers, WestJet employees.
Research: To be shareable amongst target consumers, a content-driven campaign needs to be surprising, funny, or exciting and consistent with the brand essence connecting with the consumer emotionally (Mashable).
Because the campaign was relevant to the masses, our approach was to drive buzz through media, influencers and consumers to create a lift in views immediately upon launch. Coverage helped to drive awareness and consumer views of the video, which elicited social media shares that garnered additional mass awareness around the globe. We exceeded our objectives and overcame challenges through the following tools and strategies:
- Early Awareness: With a goal to drive early conversations and video views, outreach to morning television and radio stations ensured that the WestJet story was the first news they heard that day. After listening to top radio stations to find out what hosts wanted for Christmas, WestJet elves hand-delivered personalized gifts and media kits the morning the video launched. Through proactive outreach, six of the country’s top television morning shows agreed to show the video on air prior to viewing it. In addition to flight giveaways for viewers, using Skype for interviews with “Virtual Santa” created a unique and playful hook for media.
- Turnkey Media Relations: An interactive media release (including the video, a blooper reel, clear messaging, and a b-roll interview with a WestJet spokesperson) ensured national and international media had access to all elements of the story to create fast and in-depth coverage without any barriers.
- We developed personalized pitches for a targeted media audience distributed through email on day of launch, with immediate phone follow-up.
- Messaging: Key messages and a Q&A document were developed and executed early in the campaign and integrated throughout all communications channels and six message-coached WestJet spokespeople. This was critical for successfully owning the story once it went viral.
- Supporting Content: By creating two additional pieces of content that told a story (Bloopers and a b-roll spokesperson interview), we were able to increase both media and consumer engagement with WestJet.
- Charitable Tie-in: This reinforced WestJet’s investment in communities, motivated consumers to share the video, and softened potential criticism around the video.
- Reactive Media Relations: The team was challenged with an unexpected volume of international media requests on the second day of the program. To ensure all requests could be fulfilled, it was important at this point to initiate a process to field all in-bound media requests through one agency contact to facilitate and manage interviews with six WestJet spokespeople.
At a time of year when stress levels run high for travelers, Canada’s preferred airline, WestJet, aspired to spread holiday cheer by creating a remarkable and interactive activation for its guests and employees. With the success of the 2012 WestJet holiday campaign, WestJet set out to create a way for its guests to engage with its fun and caring brand culture online and offline, with a goal to exceed the 2012 campaign results in views (500K) and media impressions (26MM).
WestJet delighted unsuspecting travellers with a real-time holiday surprise that delivered personalized gifts to guests arriving in Calgary as part of a true “Christmas Miracle.” Having captured the experience, WestJet posted the video to its YouTube page on December 9, 2013, and within days it was amongst the top five most shared viral ads in 2013 globally. To further extend reach, WestJet and their partner agency developed a strategic social media and communications plan focused primarily on earned and owned media, including an interactive press release, media tour, media relations outreach, promoted Facebook and Twitter posts, WestJet blog posts, and internal awareness. The communications plan drove significant views (35MM+) and awareness (328MM+ media impressions) of the campaign resulting in an increase in sales.
WestJet created an experience for its guests that became timely and engaging online content that captured the hearts and minds of WestJet’s target consumers across the globe. While, the main objective of this experience wasn’t to drive sales, it certainly did. The content garnered international attention and became one of the most-viewed and shared viral ads of 2013 in the world, increasing WestJet’s sales by 86%, bookings by by 77% and WestJet.com visits by 100% compared to the same period last year.
The WestJet Christmas Miracle media relations budget ranged between $37K-42K CND, including strategy development and execution, excluding the cost of media clips purchased, the airport execution and video development. The cost per contact ($0.0001) was far below industry standard, showing an effective spend in order to exceed objectives by 1000 to 7,000 per cent.
No promo codes, seat sales or specific destinations were pushed or promoted in relation to the Christmas Miracle Video. The focus was on brand building, brand awareness and extending our owners care message at a global level through Social Media.
No distribution change or change to our regular service. We used preexisting scheduled flights in live airports.
Unusual Promotional Activity:
No price cutting or high-value promotional activity was used.
Other Potential Causes: