PR > Practices & Specialisms


WESTJET, Calgary / WESTJET / 2014

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At a time of year when stress levels run high for travelers, Canada’s preferred airline, WestJet, aspired to spread holiday cheer by creating a remarkable and interactive activation for its guests and employees. With the success of the 2012 WestJet holiday campaign, WestJet set out to create a way for its guests to engage with its fun and caring brand culture online and offline, with a goal to exceed the 2012 campaign results in views (500K) and media impressions (26MM).

WestJet delighted unsuspecting travellers with a real-time holiday surprise that delivered personalized gifts to guests arriving in Calgary as part of a true “Christmas Miracle.” Having captured the experience, WestJet posted the video to its YouTube page on December 9, 2013, and within days it was amongst the top five most shared viral ads in 2013 globally. To further extend reach, WestJet and their partner agency developed a strategic social media and communications plan focused primarily on earned and owned media, including an interactive press release, media tour, media relations outreach, promoted Facebook and Twitter posts, WestJet blog posts, and internal awareness. This entry is appropriate for PR Lions, as the communications plan drove significant views and awareness of the campaign resulting in an increase in sales.

With the support of the communications plan, the Christmas Miracle campaign resulted in 35MM+ YouTube views and 328MM+ media impressions – exceeding program objectives, and contributing to an unexpected and unprecedented 86% increase in sales compared to the same time period in 2012.


Communications Goal: To stand out during the holidays, create a newsworthy and shareable national campaign that brings joy and happiness to its guests by creating a first-of-its-kind “real-time giving” experience, amplified through a strategic communications plan.

Objective: Exceed WestJet’s 2012 Holiday video campaign in media impressions (26MM) and YouTube views (500K).

Audience: Business & Leisure travellers, WestJet guests, Canadian news, travel and lifestyle media and bloggers, social media influencers, WestJet employees.

Research: To be shareable amongst target consumers, a content-driven campaign needs to be surprising, funny, or exciting and consistent with the brand essence connecting with the consumer emotionally (Mashable).



• 328MM+ media impressions worldwide from 1,600+ stories (exceeded goal of 26MM impressions by 1,200%)

o Expected actual impressions higher than measured due to volume of international coverage

• $0.0001 cost per contact

• 35MM+ views on YouTube – one of most watched viral ads of 2013 worldwide (exceeded goal of 500k by 7,000%)

o 192,500 YouTube likes, 172,800 shares, 26,800 favorites, and 29,000+ comments

• 42.2MM Twitter impressions for #WestJetChristmas and related keywords

o Trended in Canada December 9 & 10, 2013

• 3.2MM Facebook impressions - two promoted posts

Action/Business Impact:

• Comparing December 10-17,19-24, 2013 vs. same period in 2012:

o 86% revenue increase

o 77% bookings increase

o 100% traffic increase

• 11,000% increase of new subscribers to YouTube (30,747 new subscribers)

• Additional 4.58MM views on other WestJet YouTube videos, demonstrating consumer engagement beyond this initiative and building brand awareness

• 235+ countries


The WestJet Christmas Miracle video was filmed in Toronto, Hamilton (ON) and Calgary (AB), 2 weeks before launch ensuring timeliness and seasonality. Nineteen cameras captured the emotional content and the video was unveiled on the WestJet YouTube page on December 9, 2013.

Strategic communications plan was executed throughout December, including:

• Proactive outreach with Canada’s top travel, lifestyle, trends, news media, and influencers

• An interactive press release on Canada Newswire, including original video, blooper reel and interview b-roll featuring a WestJet spokesperson

• Broadcast media tour (interviews and consumer giveaways on television morning shows), also launch day radio drops whereby WestJet Elves delivered personalized gifts along with media kits to top radio morning show hosts following proactive listening

• WestJet internal awareness created additional buzz amongst employees, stakeholders, and personal networks

• Reactive media relations within 24 hours of launch – fielding media requests, arranging interviews and monitoring coverage


WestJet is Canada’s most preferred airline, offering scheduled service to 88 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. While WestJet is well known by its guests for creating fun, timely video content throughout the year, WestJet wanted to provide a unique experience for its guests and WestJetters (employees) and stand out amongst a greater audience during the Christmas season. The challenge in 2013 was to bring a memorable, heartwarming, and shareable “real-time giving” experience to both airline guests and employees alike.


WestJet and its partner agencies developed a strategic “real-time giving” storyline for the 2013 WestJet holiday video with the goal of capturing the hearts of target audiences and creating content that was timely and sharable. WestJet delighted unsuspecting travellers with a real-time holiday surprise that delivered personalized gifts to guests arriving at their destination.

To create buzz and lift views immediately upon launch, WestJet and its partner agency developed a strategic communications plan focused primarily on earned and owned media creating early awareness with key media, proactive media relations strategy at launch, and continued media and influencer outreach, seeding and management. Including a charitable tie-in provided incentive for early media pick-up and reinforced WestJet’s charitable, caring brand culture. Key messages and Q&A documents were developed early in the campaign and integrated throughout all communications channels and six WestJet spokespeople, which was critical for successfully owning the story throughout the campaign.

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