The gift of home, courtesy of Air Canada

They'll be home for Christmas, if the airliner has anything to say about it.

Air Canada is the latest brand to get into the “giftvertising” trend with a feel-good holiday stunt of its own.

At the Maple Leaf London Pub, where Canadians living in the U.K. can go for a taste of home, a special “Canada Night” was held on Nov. 27. Air Canada crew members showed up at the peak of the festivities to give everyone at the pub – many of whom has said that a trip back to Canada for the holidays was not viable for them this year – a free round-trip flight courtesy of the airline. Altogether, 200 ex-pats found out that they could be home for the holidays.

The stunt was developed by Air Canada’s creative agency JWT and will be supported largely through social and PR. Selma Filali, director of marketing at the airliner says the past two years have been really positive for the brand (pointing to the launch of a new plane, Air Canada Rouge and a rebranding effort), and it wanted a socially driven holiday campaign that gave something back to consumers.

“It wasn’t about creating a big stunt that was surprising or just pulling heartstrings,” she says. “It had to be embedded into an insight that everyone could connect with and it had to feel genuine for the Air Canada brand.”

The insight for the campaign – which targets every traveller – is based on the fact that people feel like they’re “home” when they see the AC maple leaf logo.

Air Canada is not the first airline to get into the gift-giving space. WestJet, which has become well known for its feel-good videos lately, recently released its own holiday stunt with locals in the Dominican Republic, where WestJet does CSR work with Live Different, sending holiday wishes to a virtual Santa Claus that were then rushed to be fulfilled by staff on the ground.

“I think WestJet did a great job,” Filali says. “They did a great job because the tone and the voice they chose aligned really well with the WestJet brand. For Air Canada [playing in the same vein creatively] wasn’t so much of a concern. We wanted to do something for the holidays, we wanted to give back. But we had to find out own voice. It had to be authentic and recognized as coming from Air Canada.”

 With files from Megan Haynes.