WestJet plans an escape from a typical travel ad

The airline begins looking to international travel with a campaign that applies its helpful positioning to travellers who are a bit out of practice.


It’s a spot that features both a getaway vehicle and a winter getaway – an Italian Job-styled heist that turns into a gentle reminder that sunny destinations are around the corner and WestJet can make getting there a little less complicated than planning.

WestJet’s latest brand spot, “Escape,” features a masked, black-clad group rushing out of a building and into a car, speeding through traffic. The redirect comes with the reveal that they’re in a rush to get to the airport, where they’re met by WestJet staff who helps them through the fact that “it’s been a while” since they’ve gone on a trip and are a little stressed about remembering how to properly plan.

“For us, it’s clever, and playful, an area we like to stay in as a brand,” says Mariam Wilton, WestJet’s brand manager. “The beauty of this concept – as much as we do reference Cancun and international destinations – is that it’s really anywhere a guest wants to go, we’re there to help.”

The creative, once again handled by Rethink, takes WestJet back to its lighthearted positioning based around help and customer service. The beauty of its brand positioning, Wilton says, is that WestJet can both occupy a serious, grown space, but also have fun and be “declarative and different.”

According to Wilton, its biggest asset is how WestJetters help guests, and the care and connection brand equity was an important aspect of how the spot was conceptualized. With restrictions being lifted, Wilton says there is more optimism in the market, and more of the premium travellers with young families it targets are beginning to look at international destinations.

But the pandemic still looms over many travellers, so the airline’s “Travel Ready” video series still highlights what guests can expect throughout their journey and the safety measures it’s implementing. And the company is also keeping safety in mind when it comes to its marketing strategy.

“We have planned out a number of scenarios, and everything we do in market has a number of backups,” Wilton says, as contingency if restrictions or government advisories change. To reflect the current environment, there’s also no urgent “book now” call to action in the spot.

On Tuesday, the airline announced new spring non-stop seasonal flights from Toronto to Dublin, part of a continued focus to expand its network from the Pearson Airport hub and with premium redesigned cabins on its 737 jets.  

The media buy for “Escape,” handled by Media Experts, is “strong and responsible,” Wilton says, targeting connectional TV, big sporting events and gaming websites. It includes 15-second supplemental videos, playing with the “out-of-practice traveller” theme, such as when a traveller mistakenly checks her shoes at the gate.