The Real & Human brand makes a connection on a person-to-person
level rather than a brand-to-consumer level. We’ve seen Real & Human
challengers communicating their ‘realness’ by using chatty copy
on packaged goods, by letting their team’s weirdness shine through,
and by committing to total transparency to reveal every detail of the
company. But what if you’re a service business, where a commitment
to making a human connection with your customers is surely just a
brilliant basic – how do you go even further to show you really care?
Canadian low-cost airline WestJet has been operating for over
20 years; it’s grown to become the 2nd largest airline in Canada
(behind Air Canada) and the 9th largest in North America. But lowcost
here doesn’t just mean grin-and-bear-it low prices – the
challenger’s popularity is reflected in the awards it consistently wins,
including best Canadian Airline in TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice
Awards three years running. Priding itself on its strong ‘caring’ internal
culture, the company’s practice of sharing its profits with employees
twice a year led to the long-term marketing tagline “Owners Care” –
emphasising that at WestJet, they really do take it personally. And
giving a reason to believe why they can perhaps lean into a Real &
Human narrative in a way that, for instance, United can’t.
The big idea: Christmas Miracles.
The WestJet ‘Christmas Miracle‘ marketing campaign is something of
a phenomenon. The viral videos began six years ago, when a flashmob
of elves cheered up a group of tired passengers waiting for a redeye
flight; it received nearly 2m YouTube views. The following year WestJet
upped the ante with its “Real-Time Christmas Giving” idea. Before
boarding their flight travellers were asked to tell the WestJet Santa
what they really wanted for Christmas; then, while the flights were
in the air, the ‘WestJetters’ at their destination went shopping – with
the personalised gifts magically appearing wrapped on the baggage
carousel for the unsuspecting passengers on their arrival. 48 million
views later, a Christmas tradition was born – since then WestJet has
brought gifts (and snow) to the Dominican Republic, organised
a huge holiday party for a town devastated by a forest fire, and
enlisted their whole company to deliver 12,000 acts of kindness
and cheer in just one day.
Now an annual tradition, and a theatrical gesture of heart and
humanity, the WestJet Christmas Miracle goes to extra lengths to
symbolise how the airline, now synonymous with caring service,
goes ‘above and beyond’ in its commitment to it.