I’m sure you’ve seen it. It seems like everyone’s seen it.
The marketing masterpiece put forth by Westjet airline right before Christmas.
Their new ad shows a virtual Santa wishing families a merry christmas as well as taking gift requests from kids and parents. While it’s apparent most adults interact with the system for the smiles brought to their little ones faces, they still reveal some significant presents they would enjoy.
You learn later that Westjet employees are listening to all the requests and making their best efforts to grant the wishes of the their customers. The truly magical part happens when the travelers are standing around the conveyer belt expecting to pick up their luggage and are shocked when the very presents they wished for just a few hours previous are circling the belt, perfectly wrapped, addressed specifically to them.
So why did this work so well? Why did everyone want to share this on their news feeds which in turn propelled the video to over 30 million views?
They did 3 things right.
Tugged on heartstrings
Videos containing people’s reactions toward unexpected gestures will always be popular. It’s proven time after time when a love story with a twist happy ending enters the theaters or when a well thought out proposal video is posted on youtube. People want to watch them because these videos emotionally grab them and draw them into the story. More importantly though, they want to SHARE it with others who they know will enjoy it as much as they did.
Be as creative as possible
When you take an unexpected gesture and add in an innovative creative touch, you’re well on your way to making people smile. Thinking outside the box is a crucial element Westjet considered when creating something special for their customers. Chances are that most people who watched their video had never seen an airline make christmas wishes come true the same way Westjet did. This may be the hardest part of the whole process. Coming up with something new, creative, and heart-warming is no easy task.
Don’t set your expectations too high
It’s pretty safe to say Westjet didn’t expect this video to reach 34 million views. I’m sure they considered the potential for this video to go viral when creating this experience, however they stuck to a smaller scale. They chose a small select group of their customers to surprise in order to provide them with a larger and more generous experience. They also strategically sent the video out to their customers announcing they would donate flights to the Ronald McDonald House once the video hit 200,000 views. 200,000- that’s was the goal. It’s a hefty number for most videos on Youtube, but it’s not a viral number by any means.
An expert like John-Kurt Pliniussen, associate professor of marketing and innovation say this campaign wont wont increase the airlines sales much, but the brand will benefit overall. Pliniussen says, “Typically we shop, when we travel, on price – as opposed to brand,” said Pliniussen. “What they’re trying to do is say, ‘Look, if you travel, also consider the brand. Go to the WestJet site.’”
While there’s no formula for a viral video, learning from those who’ve accomplished it will make you more likely to succeed in your next endeavors. Whether your intent is to make a name for your brand and become more successful or just to get a laugh out of people, strategic thinking is important when trying to leave your mark and doing it right.