WestJet Got Vegas-Bound Passengers to Play the Biggest Game of All Even Before They Landed

A giant light show prize wheel visible from 12,000 feet up

To celebrate 21 years in business, and 12 of shuttling Canadians to Las Vegas, air carrier WestJet decided to give passengers on one flight access to a special game of chance—a giant spiraling light show lottery visible from 12,000 feet in the air.

The prize, for one lucky flier—a two night-stay at the Venetian hotel in Sin City, a $2,500 shopping spree at the hotel shops, a handful of tickets to shows, and naturally, two round-trip tickets to Vegas.

WestJet and agency Rethink built the light show in the Mojave Desert, across more than a kilometer of land, over more than a week—an elaborate effort for a 20-second flyover. A behind-the-scenes video contains more detail. As the plane was passing overhead from Toronto to Vegas, a flight attendant invited passengers to look out the left-side windows. After a brief moment of somewhat dubiously edited suspense, the spectacle sprang to life, giving fliers a surprise prize wheel sweepstakes.

It’s an impressive bit of production, reminiscent of a reverse take on marketing stunts like Intel’s dancing-drone light show from last year, wherein people watched the airborne light show from the ground instead of the other way around.

Whether it was worth the time and energy for such a short payoff is another question. WestJest didn’t walk away empty handed, earning two Guinness World Records for the feat—largest light output from a projected image, and largest circular projection.

In other words, the prize wheel can, no matter what, live on in obscure infamy, at least until another brand comes along and eclipses it with an even more dazzling set of flashing lights.