Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

“No way! Is this for real?” This company granted passengers’ wishes JUST HOURS after asking for it! [Fridays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]

December 4, 2020

Only 21 days left till Christmas Day!

What’s your ultimate Christmas wish?

A brand new car?

To spend the holiday season with your loved ones?

An end to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Prepare your wishes because Santa might just grant you your dream Christmas gift―just like what happened with these airline passengers back in 2013!

WestJet Airlines Ltd., or WestJet, is a Canadian airline company founded in 1996 and began as a low-cost alternative to the country’s major airlines.

As of 2020, WestJet is the second-largest Canadian airline next to Air Canada and provides scheduled and chartered air services to over 100 destinations in Canada, US, Europe, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Sharing the Joy of Christmas through “Real-Time Gift Giving”

Imagine a busy Christmas season at an airport.

―restless passengers excited to go home for the holidays, impatient children, jam-packed flights, stressed out employees because of flight changes, long queues of passengers, etc.

It’s a very bustling sight to see.

In order to lighten the airport atmosphere during the Christmas of 2013, WestJet decided to spread the joy of the season by creating a remarkable, sentimental, and interactive experience for its employees and travelers.

The airline company called it…

The “Christmas Miracle” Campaign!

The planning started in August when WestJet collaborated with creative agency Studio M to brainstorm on how it could manifest the spirit of giving, especially during the holiday season.

The campaign team decided the best way for them to highlight this Christmas spirit is by providing WestJet passengers with a memorable holiday experience.


By surprising unsuspecting travelers on two Calgary-bound flights (one from Hamilton, the other from Toronto) with their dream Christmas presents!

Note: There were no limitations to the passengers’ Christmas wishes. They could state whatever they want and WestJet would give it to them as a gift.

A total of 250 WestJet passengers had the opportunity to tell a virtual Santa Claus what they wanted to have for Christmas. As they stated their wishes, airline employees took notes behind the scenes.

Once the planes of those passengers took off, WestJet’s Digital Command Centre immediately relayed the Christmas wishes to over 150 airline employees waiting in Calgary.

With the help of the company’s partner shopping centers, CrossIron Mills and Best Buy, the employees went on a mad dash of shopping, wrapping, and labelling those gifts for the passengers.

Any guesses on what WestJet’s employees bought?

Some of the gifts were a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, snowboard, DSLR camera, free plane tickets to fly home for the holidays, socks and underwear, and… a widescreen television!

Kudos to the WestJet team for really exerting effort to buy all these extravagant gifts!

When the planes arrived in Calgary and while passengers were waiting for their baggage, the gifts made a grand entrance on the baggage carousel.

This resulted in laughter, excitement, shouts of “No way!”, and even a few tears of joy among the passengers!

Of course, the campaign team wouldn’t let this heartwarming moment pass by without documentation.

By installing hidden cameras across Calgary International Airport, WestJet was able to capture and record footage of passengers’ candid reactions upon receiving their gifts.

The campaign team’s holiday video using the recorded footage was uploaded on WestJet’s YouTube channel on December 9, 2013.

WestJet’s Own “Christmas Miracle”

According to Richard Bartrem, WestJet’s Vice President of Communications and Community Relations, the airline company only expected to garner around 800,000 views from the video uploaded on YouTube.

What the company didn’t expect was that in just 3 days since the video was posted, it already had over 13 million views and viewed in 235 countries including the US, UK, Brazil, Finland, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Russia, Philippines, Mexico, France, and Australia.

Here are other results of WestJet’s “Christmas Miracle” Campaign:

  • More than 1,600 news coverage from different media companies like Forbes, NewsWire, CBC News, etc.
  • 30,747 new subscribers to WestJet’s official YouTube page
  • 42.2 million Twitter impressions specific to the hashtag, #WestJetChristmas
  • Trended in Canada for 2 days (December 9-10, 2013) and became one of the Most Viewed and Shared Viral Ads of 2013
  • Increased WestJet’s sales by 86% compared to the same period in 2012

Not only that!

The “Christmas Miracle” Campaign was also awarded as the winner in the Consumer Brand, Travel, and Viral Campaign category during the 6th Annual Shorty Awards.

By creating and sharing the first-of-its-kind “real-time giving” experience in Canada, WestJet brought joy and happiness to its passengers and employees.

As stated by Communications and Community Relations VP Richard Bartrem:

“This year, we wanted to turn our holiday campaign into a tradition by doing something that’s never been done before. Inspired by the notion of real-time giving, we wanted to surprise [passengers] with meaningful, personalized gifts when they least expected them.”

Spread the love and joy this season by creating a fun and memorable experience for your target market!

With Christmas just around the corner, one of the ways you can do it is by gifting your customers with something (even just a simple token) that symbolizes your gratitude to them.

Put yourself in one of the passengers’ shoes. If you’re the one who received a widescreen TV just hours after wishing for it, wouldn’t you feel joyful―even tear up a bit―and remember the brand or group of people that made your wish come true?

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Friday: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing”

Jay Conrad Levinson (1984) said that Guerrilla Marketing “works because it’s simple to appreciate, easy to execute, and inexpensive.”

Guerrilla Marketing is unconventional.

Looking beyond the traditional ways of advertising, marketers, and advertisers need to spice things up in order for their brand to have campaigns that not only make an impact but also stick to their target market’s mind.

Guerrilla Marketing usually aims to have direct contact with consumers.

This type of direct contact should spark an emotional reaction that leads to consumers effectively remembering the brand.

It’s about making a big impression and making that impression last a long time (if not forever).

Guerrilla Marketing is inexpensive.

The effect of this is being able to create a buzz around the brand, and the strategy used to market it. Almost everything is passed around through word-of-mouth.

Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest outcomes and it usually doesn’t cost anything.

This is every business’ or brand’s dream!

Every Friday, we publish tips, examples, and other useful content on unconventional ways of marketing and promotion.

Learn more about how to grab your target market’s attention and make an amazing first and lasting impression without having to spend a lot of money.

Businesses don’t really need to spend much for a guerrilla campaign. You do not need a big budget to be successful. You just need creativity and a good imagination.

Hope you’ve found this week’s guerrilla marketing insight interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Friday’s Gorillas of Guerrilla!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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