In the ultimate Secret Santa move, the Canadian airline’s employees asked passengers just before take-off what they wanted for Christmas. Shortly after they arrived at their destination, their wrapped requests of Santa appeared on the baggage carousel. The work it took to pull it off was astronomical. WestJet employees had to scramble to purchase and wrap gifts for 250 passengers while the flight was en route. Then there was the actual effort to film it all—19 hidden cameras had to be installed!
The result was moving and showcased WestJet as an airline that cared about its passengers. The video was so popular because it featured real people and their very real reactions to genuine, unexpected kindness. It reminds us of the true meaning of the holidays—that it is better to give gifts than to receive them. Unless you’re the Grinch, how could you not tear up seeing the emotional response of the passenger who received a camera, or smile at the sheer joy expressed by the boy when he opened his tablet?
For content marketers, this is an example of how authenticity in the holiday season can drive sales in the long run. WestJet not only engendered a ton of goodwill with this touching event, but also got results. The airline had a coordinated social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter, and social impressions were off the charts—the 2013 video has more than 42.5 million views to date on YouTube. The day after the WestJet Christmas Miracle launched it was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter globally and garnered 1 billion Twitter impressions in just a month.
While social awareness is great, WestJet says the campaign also boosted the bottom line. The company reports traffic on its site rose 100 percent compared to the same period the previous year. Bookings went up 77 percent and revenue increased 86 percent. While there could have been other factors that contributed to that, the brand awareness and good feeling associated with WestJet thanks to the video is truly priceless and something that lasts well beyond the holiday season.
WestJet followed up in 2014 with gifts that perhaps have even more meaning. It sent WestJetters to the Dominican Republic, to a struggling area of the country that the company had done charitable work in previously. The airline fulfilled the gift requests, many of which were much more basic than a new television or tablet.
WestJet hadn’t posted anything for 2015 just yet, but we’ll be curious to see if they can top their previous efforts.
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So remember—Black Friday is just one day. The good tidings and cheer that brands can generate with the right content marketing efforts can be a gift that lasts all year.
By Amy Dominello Braun