WestJet puts the joy back into air travel with nontraditional marketing stunt.

Lori Bahnmueller 12/16/13 - 6:31 pm

There’s not much joy in airline travel today.

Even before boarding the plane, passengers must carefully organize and weigh their luggage, go through various states of undress to clear security and jockey for an early boarding position to secure space in an overhead bin. It’s become little more than a means to an end.

Except for those airlines that still know how to show a passenger a good time.  Anyone who’s flown Southwest Airlines comes away with a good story about zany flight attendants and generous snack policies.  (It says a lot about the state of domestic air travel when we feel giddy about an extra couple bags of peanuts.)

Still, we fly on, expectations checked with our baggage. 

So imagine our surprise when Canada’s WestJet Airline cranked up the volume on its 2012 holiday flash mob for a Christmas surprise we’ll not soon forget.

WestJet Airlines earlier this month conjured up a life-sized Santa Claus in a box, who cleverly cajoled the wish lists out of more than 250 passengers while they waited to board two recent flights. While the passengers were in flight, merry teams of WestJet employees hit the mall buying up personalized presents that greeted passengers at baggage claim. The gifts contained everything from socks and underwear to Android tablets and a big-screen TV. They call it a WestJet Christmas Miracle.

The recipients were obviously all aglow, but the clever nontraditional marketing stunt also put a fresh polish on WestJet’s brand. While only 250 or so people were gifted, more than 27 million have virtually experienced the surprise and joy of the event through YouTube, blog posts, news reports and more.

It’s difficult to determine whether WestJet will realize increased demand as a result of this one event. In fact, experts say that consumers are largely driven by price when it comes choosing airlines. But it’s certainly won the brand a great deal of free exposure. When price is the same, who wouldn’t choose the airline that brought a little joy back to air travel? Particularly around a certain holiday…


Blog Category: Insights & Trends

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