Air Canada hand-delivers holiday cheer

The airline's follow-up to its "Gift of Home" platform reunites a few Canadians with their loved ones.

Air Canada is taking a slightly different perspective on its “Gift of Home” platform for 2015 by focusing on the stories behind the people looking to connect this holiday season.

With Marketel handling the airline’s holiday campaign this year, several Canadians explained the stories behind the things they got for loved ones who lived far away under the guise of being filmed for a documentary about sending gifts during the holidays. When they went to the post office to send them, an Air Canada pilot greeted them and let them know they had been given a ticket to fly out and deliver the gift themselves.

The video is being pushed through social, with a 30-second version being used as pre-roll. Mindshare handled the media buy, with Spafax, which publishes Air Canada’s enRoute magazine, handling community management.

This is the second time Air Canada has done the “Gift of Home” for the holidays, debuting it last year when it brought plane tickets to a pub in London known to be a gathering place for Canadian ex-pats. Selma Filali, director of marketing communications at Air Canada, says that while last year’s “Gift of Home” video earned over three million views, the company was most proud that sentiment towards it was 95% positive. This year’s campaign zeroed in on even more personal stories, which fits in with the brand’s overall approach to branded content.

“This type of branded content allows us to engage with our customers in an authentic way, but also in a different way from what we do with our traditional ads and activities,” she says. “The job of branded content is to inspire feelings and to start or join conversations and movements. As a brand, we’re about connecting Canada and the world, and we thought that ability to connect Canadians to their loved ones would be a very inspiring story to tell again during the holidays. It’s a different concept and narrative, but the result is the same, which is connecting people.”

Filali adds that positive sentiment for last year’s “Gift of Home” was also particularly high among Air Canada’s staff. That influenced its approach to advertising throughout 2015, spotlighting what its staff – who Filali says are Air Canada’s “biggest brand ambassadors” – does every day, both in its ads and the content promoting the “Make Amazing” social media contest, showing how its staff makes amazing moments happen and asking consumers why their dream trip would be amazing for them.

Outside of recreating a touching moment for Canadians, Filai says there aren’t any specific objectives for this year’s “Gift of Home” campaign.

“We have tactical initiatives and promotions, because we have to fill planes, and our objectives are different depending on the type of marketing and messaging we put out there,” she says. “The overall direction we’re taking on the branded content side is as a lever to engage with consumers in a meaningful way, which is creating narratives that show our ability to connect people on different levels.”