WestJet shows appreciation for one of its own

The airline spotlights how it has worked with Make-A-Wish, enforcing the role of "care" in its brand positioning.

WestJet’s latest heartstring-tugging social campaign is putting the focus on how one of its own has worked with Make-A-Wish to make travel wishes take flight.

Launched to coincide with the UN-designated “International Day of Happiness” on March 20, “WestJet Connections: Share Happiness” puts Make-A-Wish volunteer and WestJet cabin crew manager Karl Dovick in the spotlight. The video captures his emotional response as he’s given kudos for his volunteer work over the years, as well as showing how airline staff have accommodated its young Make-A-Wish passengers with special in-flight announcements and attention.

“The heart of the brand has always been the word ‘care’,” says Richard Bartrem, VP of marketing communications at WestJet. He tells strategy that the idea of “care” is important for a client’s journey, because from the moment a passenger arrives at the airport, to the minute they pick up their baggage at the destination, control is wrested from them in a heavily regulated security environment.

According to Bartrem, WestJet essentially offers a commodity product, “an aluminum cylinder that flies at the same speed, same altitude and lands in the same place.” The care the airline provides its customers is one of the intangibles that makes a difference in people’s minds and why it’s emphasized in its marketing. The caring theme also ties into the airline’s long-running “Christmas Miracle” campaign, which has surprised customers with gifts and trips over the holiday season.

When it comes to its charitable offerings, WestJet does quarterly spotlights on the ones it supports, Bartrem says, so charities can “leverage WestJet’s presence in the market.” Karl had been volunteering with Make-A-Wish for years, and Make-A-Wish kids often ask “to go” places, so WestJet was a natural fit for the partnership, says Bartrem.

“It’s been a strong platform for us that’s responded well to content we’ve put out in the past,” he says.

Studio M and Unified Content were behind the campaign and Media Experts handled all media strategy and execution.