WestJet Christmas miracle: Airline surprises flyers with their gift wishes, earning worldwide praise

Canadian airline WestJet has surprised more than 250 customers on board two Calgary-bound flights with their Christmas wishes, earning worldwide praises for the company.

Christmas came early for the fliers at the Toronto and Hamilton International airports, when they were surprised with Christmas gifts upon arrival at Calgary.

The travellers told a virtual Santa Claus their Christmas wishes via an interactive screen at their departure points and upon arrival WestJet staff had bought and wrapped their gifts, ready for their arrival at Calgary.

The gifts ranged from flights home for Christmas, big-screen TVs to snowboards and socks.

The event was filmed in real-time, inspiring adults across the globe to once again believe in Christmas miracles.

Many passengers burst into tears upon receiving their gifts, as the travellers and WestJet staff were filled with joy.

The project took four months to organise and was executed with the help of more than 175 WestJet employees who volunteered their time.

If making the Christmas wishes of its passengers come true wasn’t enough, WestJet also pledged to give away free flights to families in need if the video surpassed 200,000 views.

The video has well exceeded this target, currently attracting almost 10 million views since it was posted on YouTube on December 8.

It’s also inspired some Facebook and Twitter users to declare they want to work for the company.

Taboo strategy director Richard Hack told SmartCompany the WestJet campaign demonstrates how brands can align themselves with an occasion in “the right way”.

“Christmas is the most noisy campaign period of the year and we’ve purposefully avoided launching products for our clients because it’s too close to Christmas, so to do something epic and successful like this at this time of year is really hard,” he says.

“What’s beautiful about this is it’s about brand building and doesn’t have a revenue objective. With a positive tone they’ve hooked themselves onto the spirit of Christmas and it gives us warm and fuzzy feelings.”

Hack says the campaign makes people believe in the idea of Santa Claus again.

“Most people featured in the campaign are past the point of believing in Santa, but it’s a reminding to them of the spirit of Santa,” he says.

“What you see with most of the campaign messaging around Christmas is it’s all sales-driven, a revenue push. Regardless of how creative businesses can get with Santa and putting Jingle Bells in it, the consumer can see the objective is about revenue earning and driving purchases.”

Hack says campaigns like this make consumers think about who is behind the airline and the values of the company.

“You wouldn’t be working on something like this if you weren’t an organisation with a customer-centred culture,” he says.

Ogilvy Action chief executive Sean Taylor told SmartCompany the campaign is unlikely to result in a revenue boost for WestJet.

“On so many fronts it was fantastic. I think it’s one of those things where it might not stimulate sales per say, but in terms of brand switching, if a person is flying and all the scores are even between the airlines, I don’t see why they wouldn’t choose WestJet,” he says.

“It resonates so well with the Christmas spirit, when in so many ways it’s become fundamentally commercial. Outside of the social amplification here, there is nothing in it for WestJet, but that’s all part of the magic.”

Taylor says it was the digital nature of the campaign which brought it to life.

“It was only done to a couple of hundred people, but through using technology it was amplified,” he says.

“It was just a really nice, well-thought out campaign. It brings to life the brands core values, it wasn’t expensive… they’ve done a particularly good job of out-thinking. Word of mouth is still the most powerful strategy, and this has the potential to become almost.”


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