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What brands can learn from WestJet’s holiday video

Air travel during the holiday season is more of a nightmare, in any part of the world. Exorbitant ticket prices, long queues at almost every check point, dealing with overworked airport personnel make the journey an arduous task. However, a low cost Canadian airline, WestJet, surprised its passengers keeping up with the spirit of Christmas. Around 150 volunteers and over four months of planning created the latest viral video on the internet. Within three days of upload, it has clocked more 13 million views on YouTube.
The airline undertook a complex task to thank flyers by giving some of its customers what they wanted most for Christmas. Each of the 250 passengers boarding flights out of the Toronto and Hamilton International Airports were treated to a visit from a virtual Santa Claus, who accurately noted who was wishing for what. While the planes departed for their destination, 150 WestJet employees reportedly went on a shopping spree to purchase personalised presents for everyone on board. As the passengers arrived at the baggage claim in Calgary, they were greeted by hand-wrapped presents which were exactly what they had asked for.
So what is it that WestJet did right?
#1: Showed its human side: Social media is increasingly causing brands to become humanised on this platform. No more are brands just one-way communicators disseminating content, but also are avid listeners and improvisers. In this competitive marketplace, brands are always vying to offer ‘that little extra’ to its consumers. The entire concept of this WestJet initiative put forward its human side. The timing – around Christmas, the attempt – to become Santa Claus and the intent – to bring joy showed how the no-frill airline can actually offer a lot more to its flyers.
#2: Amplified the impossible: For a video to become viral, there needs to exist a WOW factor coupled with a certain amount of bewilderment. While the initial part of the video records what flyers wanted for Christmas, the viewers cannot imagine what’s coming up in the next few seconds – the actual execution. From diamond rings, to digital cameras and from Android tablets to flat screen TVs, the airline releases these personalised gifts ‘From Santa’ on the baggage carousel. The video captures how the WestJet employees, pressed for time, managed to deliver the exact presents to the passengers on arrival. Such initiatives create conversations – the real motive and driving force behind the ‘share’ initiative. Brands which get this right, know that it’s the most important ingredient for a viral video.
#3. Captured the genuine emotions: Emotion is another trigger for a video to become viral, as seen it the recent Google reunion ad or the Unilever Project Sunlight campaign. The WestJet video intricately showcased all emotions, right from the innocence of gifts demanded by little children, to the tears of joy when the passengers – young and old alike, opened their gifts. The mother who moves to tears on receiving the digital camera or the toddler exclaiming ‘No Way!’ on opening his Android tablet, instantly paves way for an emotional trigger. Also, the enthusiasm of WestJet employees scampering at stores is captured deep enough to strike a cord. Getting the emotions right creates personalisation; and helps form an instant bond with a brand – the dream of every brand manager.

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