If you haven’t seen this video from WestJet, you probably don’t spend much time on Facebook or the internet all together. Really, you probably don’t even watch that much TV because whether its the Today Show or the evening news, this is the type of feel-goodery that makes up the bulk of programming these days… well, of course when they aren’t covering misery, despair, discord and the altogether opposite spirit and goodwill this video inspires. But, let me not get sidetracked.
The video in question is provided below. It shows an interactive display, a large gift wrapped box, being set up at a gate in an airport. When passengers arrive for their flight they were prompted to scan their boarding passes. In doing so they are greeted with Santa… live and in person ("SANTA, I KNOW HIM!") From the scan, Santa knows a little bit about the traveler. He mentions their name and there are the appropriate astonished faces. The travelers, big kids and little kids alike, tell Santa what they want for Christmas. It’s a sweet and fun moment shared by all. And, if that was it, the video would have been nice. Heartwarm-y. However, that wasn’t the end.
Cut to the WestJet elves leaping into action. It quickly becomes clear that they are off to actually buy the presents and make all the Christmas wishes the travelers made come true. I’m certain there had to be some staging, because who checks bags these days. Still, they all huddled around the baggage carousel as presents started dropping down the conveyor. They perfectly capture the awe, astonishment and appreciation, down to the tears, of the travelers. Emotional response. It’s a powerful thing. I couldn’t stop the infectious spirit from eeking out of the computer and warming the cockles of my normally cynical-towards-stunts, bah-humbug heart.
It falls into the category of “surprise and delight.” There are many brands doing that extremely well. From Wheat Thins rewarding tweets about the product (I myself was the beneficiary of a box) to GE Health sending out fitness and healthy lifestyle accessories, the pattern is the brand making a generally genuine effort to reward engaged (or specifically unengaged) consumers with the hope to repeat a volume of reciprocal conversation or capture an authentic moment of appreciation.
I travel. I’m not a road warrior, but I get around. Still, I wasn’t familiar with WestJet. If I had heard the name before, it never really stuck. Since I had to look it up, let me share what I found on their LinkedIn page:
WestJet is Canada’s most preferred airline, offering scheduled service to 86 destinations in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Powered by an award-winning culture of care, WestJet pioneered low-cost flying in Canada. Recognized nationally as a top employer, WestJet now has more than 9,000 WestJetters across Canada. Operating a fleet of more than 100 Boeing Next-Generation 737 and Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft, WestJet strives to be one of the five most successful international airlines in the world.
Ah… A Canadian airline. Makes sense I don’t visit our neighbor to the north that often. I’ve been to Canada only once, actually, and I drove in from Buffalo. A huge mistake on my part, but it put the experience of border-crossing under my belt.
So, what’s the point? Why make the investment? It’s lightening in a bottle stuff, for sure, but the point is this. I’m talking about it. People are talking about. My Mom definitely liked this video. The point is that the video was posted on Sunday, December 8th (two days ago) and it already has 2 million views. Heck, it’s taken me most of the day to get all of this down and it only had 1 million when I started at 8:00 a.m. I don’t even need to do the search to know that there’s a lot of media attention focused on this wonderful little moment. What takes years and a lot of money shoveled into the branding engine, they were able to do in the space of a 5 minute and 30 second video for far less money than a traditional media campaign.
Realistically, what could we be talking about? $50,000 investment? Call it $100,000. You could buy that media attention, sure, but what you can’t buy is the good will. Throughout the day I saw my Facebook feed fill up with people joyfully sharing the video. Some had a similar perspective to my own: That’s doing content marketing right. Most were just delighted, moved and inspired, some to the point of tears. As a marketer and a communicator, emotional response should be the aim for anything you produce. In this case, WestJet was shooting for that lump in your throat. It doesn’t always have to be that, but it should be… it needs to be a reaction to move your audience to the next step.
What’s the next step for WestJet? Maybe it’s as simple as a like or a follow or a share. I can say, without a doubt in my mind, that if I find myself winging my way north, I’ll certainly be checking out the fares on westjet.com first. Multiply that by 2 million and it’s easy to answer the “What’s the point?” question.
"Clipper Ships" by Matt Montini.
Me and my dad make models of clipper ships.
I like clipper ships because they are fast.
Clipper ships sail the ocean.
Clipper ships never sail on rivers or lakes.
Clipper ships have lots of sails and are made out of wood.