After setting up a Santa-cam in two Canadian airports, WestJet surprised 250 travellers with their requests when they landed in Calgary a few hours later. The dreaded baggage carousel was, instead, a pipeline from Santa, delivering wrapped packages down the chute.
Cameras, of course, were on hand to record the event, which the company began planning in August.
WestJet promised to “give Christmas flights to a family in need if our video hits 200,000 views.” WestJet released the video on YouTube on Monday; as of this writing it has 12 million views, far exceeding expectations. They are “working with Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada to select a family” to receive the gift.
They are also awarding tickets to a Canadian who helps tweet about the video.
I chuckled at the dad who said he needed socks and underwear (and that’s what he got!) but I also teared up during gift wrapping. Knowing that my heart strings were being played. Head does not trump heart.
This is public relations at its best. Putting the company’s name forward in a good and emotional light. Positioning the company for mindshare, so that the next time a Canadian is booking a flight, WestJet comes to mind.
And it’s not the first time they’ve engaged alternative media for PR. Last year, they organized a flash mob (I know, there’s cognitive dissonance there) in an airport. The YouTube clip is linked from the last frame of this year’s video.
WestJet won’t be able to tell how many tickets were sold because of this campaign. But they will be able tell how many people found it engaging enough to share with their friends. And that digital word-of-mouth is gold.
“In a social media environment, the sharing of it almost becomes the point itself: ‘Look what this company did, I find it engaging, I want to tell you about it,’” Richard Bartrem, WestJet’s vice-president of communications and community relations, told the Globe and Mail.
Yep. Y’all done good.
I’m sharing. Will you?