Why This Marketing Ploy From A Canadian Airliner Kicks So Much Ass

Although Westjet is far from being a big player in the airline business, their brand is larger than life as demonstrated by their latest marketing ploy.

They managed to take the holiday spirit and gift giving to a whole new level by getting airline passengers to divulge their Christmas wish list to a virtual Santa.

Unbeknownst to them, Westjet took those wishes and did this:

And of course, being a marketer who is all about doing remarkable things, I would like to break down Westjet’s stroke of genius:

-They went well beyond their product. Think about what airliners do: they provide air travel. But like so many typical airliners, being one dimensional forces you to sell a product instead of a selling a message.

Anyone can buy a ticket and hop on a plane, but Westjet knows better than that. Like Zappos, their mission is to provide not only great air travel, but a great and unforgettable experience.

In a industry with such fierce competition, you can’t afford to just sell a product.

Even Virgin Airlines understands the power of branding yourself.

-Emotions matter. When you can grab peoples attention with a powerful act and make them feel something, you become memorable.

No one is going to hand you a gold star for having lower prices or faster check in’s, but they will remember you if you made them laugh and cry. Westjet did just that.

-Engagement. Think about the few options that are available to airlines before and during air travel to convince travelers that they made the right choice: you got a air stewardess and maybe someone at the check in counter. That’s 2 measly opportunities to reassure them.

If you have a bitchy air stewardess, that’s already one chance you had to impress your customers going up in smoke.

The problem is the complete disconnect between airlines and travelers. Westjet not only created another opportunity to engage their customers, but did so in a big way.

So to summarize: Westjet realized they were selling more than just air travel. By selling their idea of what amazing air travel should be and using engaging, emotionally charged marketing, they successfully managed to sell their brand instead.

I applaud the brilliant minds at Westjet for creating one of the most inspiring pieces of marketing that I have witnessed.