5 Ways WestJet Wins ‘Best Viral Video’ This Christmas! [Case Study]

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west-jetGarnering almost 30 million views in its first 10 days, Canadian airline WestJet’s ‘Christmas Miracle’ video has clearly won the attention and the hearts of the nation this holiday season (to put this in perspective, this is the equivalent of each and every resident of Canada watching the video once!).

The video shows travellers talking ‘live’ with Santa through a tv screen embedded on an enormous gift box. Santa asks them what they would like for Christmas, and in some cases, even calls them by name. Upon arrival at their destination, travellers are shocked and delighted to find these exact gifts waiting for them at the baggage claim!

In case you want to watch the video yourself, here it is:

One of the occupational hazards of my job is that I can’t just watch a video like this and love it (although I do certainly LOVE it!). I have to look deeper and pinpoint exactly why it’s so successful and how business owners can apply these principles to their own businesses!

And so, here are 5 ways Westjet ‘wins’ with this video, and what we can learn for our own businesses!

1. The video was in line with the company’s culture and values.

Westjet has a reputation for being a fun, personal airline. Many of their ads are based on the fact that their service is so great because their employees are also owners (they receive shares of WestJet stock when they sign on with the company).

According to Greg Hounslow, emerging media advisor at WestJet, the goal of the video was to “reinforce our brand of being fun and caring”. The content and implementation of the video are certainly in line with these values, and make an implicit statement about the company’s culture.

Mission accomplished!

2. They focused on entertainment first.

This video is clearly not just an advertisement. Although their brand is front and center throughout the video (being that travellers are flying on a WestJet plane, in WestJet’s boarding area, etc.), you never once feel like you’re getting ‘marketed to’.

There’s no mention of WestJet’s superior customer service, low prices or exclusive holiday specials. The video is light-hearted holiday entertainment that elicits warm, fuzzy feelings – and the fact that viewers will undoubtedly associate these feelings with the brand is something WestJet never could have done with a typical advertisement!

3. They had a plan.

This wasn’t a campaign that was planned and launched overnight. According to Hounslow, the idea first surfaced in Christmas 2012, and the heavy duty planning began in August. In addition, they have been focusing on effectively using social campaigns for 4 years.

The lesson to be learned here? If you’ve never before focused on virality for your business, don’t expect a blockbuster, 30-million view video right off the bat! Start small to test the waters. Create entertaining videos that your target audience will be sure to appreciate; you don’t need your content to generate millions of views, you just need it to resonate with your audience!

4. They let go of some of the control.

According to Hounslow, part of the success of the campaign came down to allowing the social team leeway to come up with new and creative ideas. This meant the ‘higher-ups’ needed to let go of a bit of the control, and allow the creative team to truly get creative!

He says, “The best advice I could offer is to try to do your best to convince those at the top to take a chance.  If you’re at the top, then release a bit of control and trust people.  If you don’t trust people and release control, you’ll always have cookie cutter approaches. You can’t do great things unless you have the right culture to go outside your comfort zone.”

5. They used influencers to spread the word.

At the outset of the campaign, the company relied on both online and offline influencers to spread the word. This included influential bloggers and media outlets, and even mentions on shows like Good Morning America and The View.

While getting mentioned on TV may be outside the realm of possibility for most small businesses, connecting with online influencers is not. Sharing your viral content (or content you hope goes viral!) with popular bloggers and social media influencers can be a great way to increase exposure for your content, at little to no cost.

Of all the viral content going around this holiday season, I’d have to give WestJet the top spot for their Christmas Miracles video. Not only have they managed to entertain us and warm our hearts, they’ve done so while staying true to their brand.

Well done, WestJet!

Why do YOU think WestJet’s video has resonated with so many people? In your opinion, what other lessons can we learn from this campaign? Share below!

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Lianne-Carla Savage
Lianne-Carla Savage
10 years ago

I love it no wonder they got so many views. 5 great tips too that are important for every kind of marketing we do. Thank you for sharing this.

Kim Garst
Reply to  Lianne-Carla Savage
10 years ago

Pretty amazing, right? Loved this the minute I saw it and knew there were some good lessons to be taken from it.

Kim Garst
10 years ago

You nailed it, Mark!

Kim Garst
10 years ago

Great point…they tell a great and captivating story in the process!

Kim Garst
10 years ago

Love your points, Collins!

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