Air Miles holds steady course

The Loyalty Group's contract with Canadian Airlines remains in place for the time being, despite that airline's takeover by Air Canada back in December....

The Loyalty Group’s contract with Canadian Airlines remains in place for the time being, despite that airline’s takeover by Air Canada back in December.

The takeover has had no impact on collectors’ Air Miles account balances or on consumers’ ability to collect and redeem their reward miles, says John Wright, senior vice-president for The Loyalty Group – the company that issues Air Miles.

"Negotiations are currently underway with airline representatives to continue the program now that it’s part of Air Canada, but they are at a very early stage," says Wright, adding that the exact nature of the negotiations will be kept confidential.

He adds, however, "I can say that we are confident that these discussions will result in a new partnership that will benefit consumers."

Air Miles buys unsold blocks of seats from Canadian to offer collectors who amass enough points to redeem for a flight.

"We’ve had a relationship with Air Miles for some time," adds Renée Smith-Valade, a spokesperson for Canadian in Calgary. "The contract is still in place and the ongoing nature of our relationship (with Air Miles) with respect to our integration with Air Canada is still under consideration."

Air Miles can also be redeemed nationally on charter airline Canada 3000, and regional carrier Air Montreal, as well as on international flights with American Airlines, KLM, Northwest Airlines and United Airlines. In addition to free flights, Air Miles also offers more than 100 non-flight rewards.

Laura Cook, a spokesperson for Air Canada in Toronto, says Canadian is in the process of reviewing all commercial agreements.

"But I’m not going to speculate on what may happen," she adds.

Meanwhile, the announcement last month that Canadian is dropping out of the Oneworld alliance has no impact on The Loyalty Group.

"We are not affiliated with any of the alliances," says Wright. "Canadian and American are part of the Oneworld alliance, for example, but we also buy seats on United, which is part of the Star Alliance."

Earlier this month, members of Air Canada’s Aeroplan program and Canadian Airlines’ Canadian Plus program were granted the reciprocal right to redeem points for travel on each other’s flights as well as those of their regional carriers.

"There has been a team of people from both carriers spending many, many hours over the past two months merging the two programs," said Smith-Valade. "It’s a big milestone for us."

She adds that members can expect to find out more through newsletters, while a general ad campaign will also be rolled out "very soon." DE

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group