This time of year, airports are magical winter wonderlands where holiday wishes come true. Right?!
WestJet certainly went all out to make it so, turning to Canadian youngsters for yuletide notions that helped inform its 2017 holiday campaign.
The Canadian carrier’s previous memorable year-end spots have included placing special presents on a baggage carousel; completing 12,000 “mini miracles” in 24 hours; and bringing joy to folks in Fort McMurray, Alberta, whose lives were devastated by wildfires.
For this year’s “12 Flights of Christmas” extravaganza, WestJet climbed into the seasonal stratosphere, staging a dozen creative, colorful and (in some cases) celebrity-driven stunts at airports across the Great White North.
Designed to delight travelers while boosting the brand, the happenings stemmed from suggestions made by kids at the St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club in Toronto, who are seen brainstorming ideas in the video below, which also features campaign highlights:
Check out the imaginative elfin moppet who shows up early in the clip and suggests “Lots of presents as big as the entire Earth!” Give that kid a 747-sized candy cane!
While the airline didn’t soar quite that high with this experiential initiative, it did succeed in staging 12 sparkly, holiday-themed spectacles in terminals and aboard planes, with each event streamed via Facebook Live on consecutive days in late November. Brand-hued Blue Santa and Mrs. Claus put in appearances, dozens of guests got free WestJet tickets, and the Boys and Girls Clubs kids were on hand to receive the extra-awesome present of watching their ideas take flight.
“A child’s imagination is a remarkable and powerful thing, and to them, Christmas is magic,” Corey Evans, WestJet’s senior community marketing manager, tells Adweek. “We knew that if we asked children what Christmas meant to them, we’d get some fascinating and memorable responses.”
2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the WestJet Cares for Kids program, so the carrier wanted to work with the Boys and Girls Clubs, one of its program partners. To help shape the kids’ concepts and build anticipation, WestJet’s Facebook fans voted on some details of the stunts, choosing, for example, whether bells or bows would be featured at a specific event. The marketer also worked with agencies Studio M, Edelman, Media Experts and Society on facets of the campaign.
“Pulling off a dozen surprises in 10 different airports and on one flight is no easy task,” Evans says. “The most challenging aspect was doing all the events live. It added a new level of complexity and planning. We had to get all the shots we needed for the hero piece but we still had to tell a story in real time.”
Some of our favorite stunts from the 12 Flights include the Royal Winnipeg Ballet performing scenes from “The Nutcracker” (what else?) at that city’s Richardson International Airport:
“The Mouse King from ‘The Nutcracker’ had to hide under a baggage carousel for 30 minutes” before the team was ready to spring the stunt live, Evans recalls. (Sorry, Whiskers, that’s showbiz.)
Next, Whose Line Is It Anyway star Colin Mochrie improv-ed his way through an ugly-sweater-themed ticket giveaway in Hamilton, Ontario:
“Colin really wanted to bring a real reindeer into the airport but he was not permitted,” Evans says. “To help him out, we rented a reindeer suit and had two employees wear it for the duration of the event. He seemed happy with the compromise.”
Meanwhile, in Toronto, Aaron Sanchez of the Blue Jays pitched in with a giant snow globe, because who wouldn’t like to play around in one of those, eh?
As for in-flight entertainment, Canadian band Walk Off the Earth led cabin-karaoke at 40,000 feet:
Perhaps best of all, in Calgary, TV personality Jillian Harris helped travelers de-stress with the gift of 40 playful puppies. (Spoiler alert: A cat gets into the act!)
We wonder how the airport’s staff fared with the canine cleanup. (That stuff ain’t coal for your stocking!)
You can ring in all 12 festive flights of fancy on WestJet’s holiday hub.
WestJet Experiential Marketing Team:
Studio M – creative and production
Edelman – PR
Media Experts – media buying
Society – social media buying
Executive Producer: Mike Mills
Head of Production: Ron Zeeman
Executive Creative Director: Bryan Reid
Creative Director : Ren Olivieri
Creatives: Joel Felker & Curtis Denomme
Director (team 1) : Bryan Reid
Director (team 2) : Navin Ramaswaran
Senior Producer : Heidi Burbela
Line Producer: Ben Sulzenko
Production Manager: Sylvie Brownlow
Prod. Coordinator : Janel Hirdes
Prod. Coordinator : Hailey Brooks
Assistant Director : Gina Simone
Assistant Director: Jessica Clarke
DOP : John Tran
DOP : Simon Shohet
Cam Op : Bruce William Harper
Cam Op : Kevin Rasmussen
Cam Op/Assist/DMT : Chris Goll
Cam Op/Assist/ DMT : Alex Spence
FB Live Technical Directors: Dan Holmes & Jack Mosor
Sound Recordist : Adam Clarke
Sound Recordist : Chris Miller
Production Designer: Monika Geresz
Editor : Peter Milller
Post Supervisor: Luke Bellissimo
Asst. Editor : Rebecca Burtnik & Dylan Butler
Colourist : Luke Bellissimo
Sound Mix: Jason Donkersgoed, Bacopa