JWT, Air Canada Think You Should ‘Test Drive Canada’ Before Moving There

By Erik Oster 

JWT Canada launched a new digital campaign for Air Canada urging those promising to move to Canada in the wake of an election cycle which has seen widespread dissatisfaction with the prospective nominees for both mainstream political parties to “Test Drive Canada” first. That probably makes a little sense, given that moving to another country is no small matter, however enticing a progressive Prime Minister and universal healthcare might seem.

The spot opens with an Air Canada ticket agent watching a screen tracking how many Americans are searching for “How can I move to Canada?” — sitting at 1,367,899 as she says, “And there’s another one.” She adds that “It’s very flattering and we certainly have the room” (no kidding) but “maybe it makes sense to check us out first.” The ad links the approach to the brand (beyond the fact that it’s a Canadian airline called Air Canada) by pointing out that they offer “over 240 flights connecting the U.S. and Canada daily.”

“The unprecedented interest in moving to Canada presented a powerful social context to make Air Canada more relevant to American travelers,” JWT creative director David Federico told AdFreak. “Our challenge was to acknowledge where the tension was coming from, but avoid weighing into specific politics.” 

The campaign targets cities including New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. via YouTube and Twitter preroll ads. In addition to the above spot, there are also a series of 20 15-second ads inviting viewers to “test drive” specific locations, like Montreal (which really is a lovely city).

“Following the California primary, conversation around ‘moving to Canada’ spiked once again,” added JWT creative director Josh Budd. “In anticipation of this, we set ourselves up to write, shoot, edit and post live content in response to American tweets. We posted 29 real-time responses—to celebrities and average folks alike.”


Those celebrities include Modern Family star Ariel Winter, travel writer Matthew Kepnes and Raven-Symoné. (In Kepnes case it was to ask for recommendations for American travelers, not because “Nomadic Matt” expressed an interest in settling down up north). 

Of course, Air Canada isn’t the first brand to leverage election year ennui for its advertising. In February, MullenLowe asked passengers to “Reach Across the Aisle” for fellow airline JetBlue, while Leo Burnett Chicago offered “Election Insurance” from eSurance in an April Fool’s Day effort. Canadian agency Critical Mass, meanwhile, encouraged creatives to “Make Canada Even Greater” by applying to the agency and making the move north.

Client: Air Canada
Director Global Marketing and Sales Communications: Selma Filali
Agency: J. Walter Thompson Canada
SVP Creative Directors: Josh Budd, David Federico
Art Director: Anton Mew
Writer: Alec Carlene
Strategy: Sarah Stringer, Kaiti Snell
Social: Rebecca Brown, Matthew Stasoff
Accounts: Andrew Rusk, Lindsay Cannon
Producer: Sydney Price
Media Strategy: Mindshare Canada
Talent: Tara Joshi
Public Relations: Spafax Content Marketing Americas