At a time of year when flights are at capacity and stress levels run high, Canada’s preferred airline, WestJet, aspired to spread the joy of the season by activating something remarkable, sentimental, and interactive for its guests and employees. 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 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, YouTube views and media impressions far exceeded program objectives, contributing to an unexpected and unprecedented increase in sales during the holiday period.In 2013 WestJet developed a strategic social media campaign to break through the clutter of holiday brand activations and capture the sentimentality of the season by creating a remarkable brand-focused experience for consumers. WestJet brought joy and happiness to its guests, and employees by creating and sharing a first-of-its-kind “real-time giving” experience that embodies the spirit of the holiday season. WestJet created an experience for their guest that was not only timely and engaging but it captured the hearts, minds and social media feeds of WestJet’s target consumers across the globe.
The viral campaign garnered international attention and became one of the most-viewed and shared viral ads of 2013 in the world, and increased WestJet’s sales by 86% compared to the same period last year. The WestJet Christmas Miracle video increased brand awareness and loyalty opportunities from within and beyond North America, as evidenced through video views and overwhelmingly positive media and consumer feedback, all celebrating WestJet’s caring culture.
• An additional 4.58MM views on other WestJet YouTube videos, demonstrating consumer engagement beyond this initiative
• WestJet grew brand awareness globally, with 235 countries having viewed the video. Top countries include: US, UK, Brazil, Finland, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Russia, Philippines, Czech Republic, Mexico, France, Netherlands, and Australia
•35MM+ views on YouTube – one of the most watched viral ads of 2013 worldwide (exceeded goal of 500k by 7,000%)
• Video received 192,500 YouTube likes, 172,800 shares, 26,800 favorites, and 29,000+ comments
• 328MM+ media impressions world-wide from 1,600+ media stories (exceeded goal of 26MM by 1,200%)
• 11,000% increase of new subscribers to WestJet’s YouTube page (30,747 new subscribers)
• 42.2MM Twitter impressions specific to #WestJetChristmas and related keywords
• Trended in Canada for 2 days (December 9-10, 2013)
• 3.2MM Facebook impressions combined on two promoted posts
• WestJet received approximately 4X the number of daily Facebook fan posts when compared to its competitors throughout launch week
•Guests at airport departure gates scanned boarding passes at virtual kiosks to share their Christmas wish list with WestJet’s live “Virtual Santa.”
•The WestJet “Digital Command Centre” compiled shopping lists and 150 volunteer WestJetters purchased, wrapped and personalized gifts for 250 WestJet guests.
•Guests were surprised at their destination when a festively decorated baggage carousel came to life and it was not just their suitcases that arrived but the gifts they had requested merely hours before. This experience was captured by nineteen hidden cameras.
•On December 9 2013, the WestJet Christmas Miracle video was unveiled on WestJet’s YouTube page and amplified through PR and social, including promoted posts on Twitter and Facebook.
•WestJet announced it would provide free flights to reunite a family in need through its long-time partner, Ronald McDonald House Charities, once the video reached 200,000 views.
A proactive communications plan, included:
•Interactive Press Release: Distributed nationally across the wire ensuring timely media pick up and in-depth stories. The release was accompanied by the video, a blooper reel, and a b-roll interview with a WestJet spokesperson.
•Broadcast Media Tour: After listening to top radio stations to find out what hosts wanted for Christmas, WestJet elves hand-delivered personalized gifts and media kits the day the video launched. We also armed television shows across the country with flight giveaways and offered interviews with “Virtual Santa” live via Skype.
•Reactive Media Relations: Due to international success within 24 hours of launch, we initiated a reactive media relations strategy, fielding global inquiries, arranging interviews and monitoring coverage.
•Social Media: Promoted posts on Facebook and Twitter, and two WestJet blog posts, drove views of the video amongst media and consumers alike.
•Internal Awareness at WestJet: Having become a source of pride at WestJet and reaffirming its fun and caring culture internally, employees shared the experience with guests, stakeholders and their personal networks.
WestJet Christmas Miracle Case Study: http://youtu.be/p7-r9Cnyb1g
Corey Evans , Manager, Sponsorship, Community Investment and Experiential Marketing
Greg Plata, Team Lead, Sponsorship & Experiential Marketing