Air Canada promotes Aeroplan ahead of 2020 relaunch

The airline is running the loyalty program's biggest contest to communicate the ways it is keeping members engaged.

Air Canada is running an integrated campaign and contest for Aeroplan, one way it is attempting to deliver value for members and keep them engaged with the loyalty program ahead of a planned relaunch next summer.

The online contest is running on social channels, as well as in some airports, and is the largest ever run by the 35-year-old Aeroplan program.

Until Sept. 25, members have the chance to win a total of 38.5 million miles, with all Aeroplan transactions counting towards entries for ten grand prize draws of 3.5 million miles each, to be announced in November. An additional thirty-five winners will receive 100,000 miles through draws announced weekly during the contest period. On top of completing transactions, members can enter the secondary prize draw by sharing their “picture-perfect trips” on social, tagging the people they wish to travel with and including the hashtag “#withaeroplan.”

Andy Shibata, managing director of brand at Air Canada, says Air Canada hopes the campaign will show members that it remains committed to improving the Aeroplan program, with the goal of delivering greater value, ease and flexibility for members.

After first making a hostile bid for the Aimia-owned program in July 2018, with a coalition of partners including TD, CIBC and Visa, Air Canada nearly doubled its bid to $450 million in cash and the assumption of liability for the approximately $1.9 billion worth of unredeemed Aeroplan miles. The transaction closed in January, and the airline plans to use Aeroplan (as well as its roughly five million members) as the foundation of a new program to be launched in 2020.

In the meantime, Air Canada has been tweaking the program, ensuring its members stay engaged with the program until the relaunch. Last month, it announced a number of changes, including full refunds within 24 hours of booking, a refund option for flight rewards up to two hours before departure and a reduced fee for refunds completed online. Shibata says other changes are expected to be rolled out at a later date, such as expanding the network of airline partners through which members can earn and redeem.

“We’re eager to move the program forward and will continue to make enhancements to the program for our members,” says Shibata. “We wanted to show our members our commitment to the program, to making it even better and to thank them for their loyalty.”

The idea for a contest came from a recent Aeroplan survey that showed Aeroplan plan members travel more than the average Canadian. Thirty-five percent of members travel three times a year for leisure, whereas 75% of Canadians do so two or fewer times per year. “Knowing this, we wanted to give them a chance to do more of what they love,” Shibata says.

Casacom developed the PR strategy and is leading media relations. It also helped develop survey questions for Aeroplan members and Canadians, which were used in developing the campaign. Air Canada worked with Cossette on developing the creative concept for the campaign. Assets include YouTube and Google Play ads, social posts, display banners (run programmatically and on its own channels, such as and member communication emails. The banners, OOH and social posts were all created in-house.

At 7,500 miles for a one-way flight, Air Canada claims Aeroplan has the lowest fixed fare redemption options among Canadian loyalty travel programs.