Swoop is letting deal-hungry passengers take their time

The ultra low cost airline is building awareness for its entry in Toronto by letting locals know its deals aren't going anywhere.


Ultra-low fare airline Swoop is introducing itself to Torontonians by showing there is no rush to take advantage of its “big deals.”

This primarily comes in the form of a giant digital billboard at Yonge-Dundas, which has a countdown clock telling passers by when Swoop’s flight deals end – a date that is currently more than 550 years away. There are also static billboards, which depict other never-ending deals with Swoop, on high-traffic routes in Toronto like the Gardiner Expressway and Airport Road as part of the campaign.

Swoop is referring to this campaign as “the big deal campaign” – not just because of its cost-efficient deals on flights, but also due to the substantial news that the airline will start flying out of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on October 25. Pearson is Canada’s largest and busiest airport, with more than 47 million passengers passing through per year. And it’s located in a city that has close to six million people, including the GTA.

“Those are big deal numbers,” says Kelly Steward, senior leader of marketing and digital at Swoop. “To introduce ourselves to Torontonians, we wanted to utilize this convention that’s typically associated with time-sensitive sales and blow it up into a giant billboard countdown to highlight that we always have ultra-low fares.’”

Steward adds that the hyperbole in the creative is meant to help Swoop capture attention in a new market, playing off of the insight that, due to the high cost of travel within the country, Canadians seem trained to wait for “seat sales” and other limited time offers for low-cost flights.

Swoop is currently offering 20% off all base fares by using the code “Fall20.” One of the brand’s featured offers is a one-way ticket from Toronto to Edmonton for $109 – similar flights from Air Canada start at $806, with fellow ULCC Flair Airlines offering it at $349.

The fact that there is no rush to take advantage of Swoop’s deals also plays into record low demand for flights during the pandemic that isn’t likely to subside until vaccines are widely available.  According to the latest monthly aviation statistics, the amount of passengers carried in Canada was down 89.5% year-over-year in July, pushing operating revenues down 88.3%.

The lack of peace of mind consumers have when it comes to travelling during this second wave, “certainly is a challenge,” Steward says. “People just aren’t travelling the same way. For us, we’re just really focused on talking about travelling responsibly and that health and safety narrative.”

Like most airlines, Swoop is attempting to give customers peace of mind by outlining health and safety measures it’s taking to keep passengers safe.

The pandemic also had an impact on Swoop’s marketing business plans for its Toronto entry. Stewart says Swoop would’ve likely had a street team on the ground at Pearson, engaging with people, doing “some fun giveaway” and capturing those moments for social media.

Instead, Swoop is creating brand awareness through radio and billboard ads as well as digital ads on YouTube, Spotify and social media, geo-targeted to areas where the billboards are in place. Society Etc. handled the media buy for the campaign.

Campaign creative was handled by Oliver. In 2018, Swoop parent company WestJet tapped Oliver to create an in-house team to supplement its other agency relationships.