DonAir offers flights that are too good to be true

Halifax's King of Donair worked with Wunder on a phony airline to alert Albertans to its two new locations.


For people who love a cheap flight, a $7 trip from Alberta to Halifax is the sort of too-good-to-be-true, once-in-a-lifetime offer that is impossible to ignore.

Around two weeks ago, Facebook and Instagram ads began appearing in the areas of Edmonton and Grande Prairie, Alberta that promised just that. Those who clicked through were brought to the website of an airline known as DonAir – whose name is conspicuously similar to the cone of rotisserie meat known as “donair.”

DonAir-FacebookTurns out, $7 was in fact the price of experiencing Halifax’s King of Donair, without actually needing to fly halfway across the country. The Nova-Scotia based restaurant has opened two new Alberta locations, and the offer – incredible as it was – was a marketing stunt devised by Halifax agency Wunder.

Wunder is also the two-man shop behind the now mildly famous Donair Cam. That stunt, executed last January, was part of a campaign for Nova Scotia Webcams that featured a webcam capturing a 24-hour live stream of donair meat roasting on a spit at a King of Donair location. Within a week of going live, Donair Cam had garnered 22 years-worth of watch time and 47 million impressions from viewers in 159 countries.

Following that first campaign, the QSR decided to continue working with Wunder, says Stephen Flynn, creative director at the agency. The new brief: create awareness for two new locations opening in the cities of Edmonton and Grande Prairie.

Creatively, Flynn says the starting insight was realizing that Albertans familiar with the traditional Halifax food before would be “truly” prepared to fly out to get some. That got him and his partner, Mike Postma, director of innovation, thinking about the concept of flying. After research showed that ads for seat sales have among the highest click-through rates in the travel industry, the duo decided to run with the idea of a phony airline.

As a two-person agency, they managed everything themselves, from directing the spots to creating the website.

The strategy rested on ensuring that the art direction captured enough of the look and feel of a traditional airline, says Flynn, so that viewers would be tempted to click through to the website where they could book their tickets. So far, people have been spending an average of 5 minutes and 49 seconds on the site, according to the creative. And overall, he says 75% of visitors have been attempting to book a flight using the “search flights” icon.

Doing so initiates a video that reveals the true nature of DonAir. Visitors who scroll down are also likely to realize the airline is, in fact, a donair shop.

While the main traffic driver has been the Facebook and Instagram ads, the agency also experimented with some pre-roll in the same markets. But those video ads, featuring the DonAir stewardess, do not have the same bait-and-switch effect, according Flynn.

The campaign launched two weeks ago, and Flynn says the media spend is being revisited on a weekly basis.  He says the spend may eventually shift entirely to the Edmonton market, once the Grande Prairie audience has been exhausted.

Now having worked with King of Donair on the two campaigns, Flynn says the agency has discovered that the brand is open to “pretty much anything.” On a smaller scale, it has always had the tendency to be quirky on social media, but its two recent stunts have really shown its “scrappy” side, he says.