Air Canada taps the emotion of flying home for the holidays

The airline helps customers, both at home and abroad, come home more often as part of its latest "Fly The Flag" execution.
Air Canada

For those who live far away, the holidays are a rare opportunity to return home. And whether that means reconnecting with people or a place, the experience is often an emotional one.

This year, Air Canada sought to capitalize on that positive sentiment with a new holiday effort stemming from its ongoing “Fly The Flag” campaign.

The airline hosted celebrations at airports in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington and Tokyo, offering gifts and flowers to families welcoming relatives and friends home for the holidays. It also handed out free airfare to some travellers to help them return home – wherever that may be – more often than they normally could.

Among those who benefited were a family who could only afford to purchase a flight for one of two grandparents, a university student who wished to travel home to see her parents and newlywed couple living in separate cities and who are unable to see each other very often.

As the national carrier with the most international flights, Air Canada helps bring many people home over the holidays, says Andy Shibata, the airline’s managing brand director. “That’s why we wanted to be the first to greet our passengers when they landed, make their homecomings more memorable and help them celebrate the joy of being reunited with their loved ones this holiday season.”

A campaign spot showing the airport reunions were shared on the airline’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram channels. For the first time, Air Canada has also been promoting the video in the U.S. and Japanese markets to help spread its message to Canadians travelling abroad in Washington, D.C. and Tokyo, Shibata says.

“We extended the initiative abroad, because we understand ‘home’ isn’t just in Canada,” he says.

FCB (which was a awarded a bigger creative mandate last December) and Mosaic worked on the campaign, with Weber Shandwick leading PR efforts.

The “Fly The Flag” initiative began in 2016 with the flying of the Canadian Olympic team to Rio and a social campaign representing Canada as a “young nation pushing out into the world.” Since then, Air Canada has continued to export Canadian patriotism abroad, with campaigns supporting the ideals of diversity and inclusivity.

Last year’s holiday spot featuring Ryan Reynolds celebrated Canadians’ growing confidence as a nation, and included the first holiday airport activations. The campaign received 17 million views on social media, making it one of its best performing pieces, according to the airline, which continues to run the spot again this year.