Friday, 31 January 2014

Do you believe in marketing miracles?

As the Christmas season approached last year, my 13-year-old son asked me if Santa Claus was real.  It made me aware of the fact that he is getting older, and beginning to question some of the ideas he previously simply accepted as the truth.  I procrastinated in giving him a direct answer. Instead, I left my son wondering if there is something special and unexplainable about the Christmas season. I  wanted him to believe that sometimes special occasions and seasons take place when common things seem to turn into real magic; a time when people want and choose to share goodness and happiness with others.   

For marketers, Christmas can be a very special time in which to bring something unique to their customers. We recently saw a great case in Australia of reaching customers and inspiring loyalty in a creative way through the Woolworths and Bringing Christmas Together with Jamie Oliver campaign. Another exceptional example of a marketing miracle was created by marketers from the Canadian airline company, WestJet.

A marketing campaign that began in August 2013 was launched shortly before Christmas when 250 pre-selected passengers from two WestJet flights were surprised when their Christmas wishes came true.

Source: Digital Trends

Guests were greeted by a digital Santa Claus at the airport before their flights. Santa asked travelers what they desired for Christmas, while airline marketing ‘wizards’ secretly recorded the information. Once the flights took off, WestJet staff members in the destination cities scrambled to collect the presents to fulfill the passengers’ wish lists. When the two flights arrived, the passengers routinely  gathered at the baggage claim expecting their luggage. Instead, they received the surprise of their lives when they were met with the gifts from their wish lists. According to WestJet newsletter, almost 360 gifts varied “from socks and underwear to a snowboard and an Android tablet to a big screen TV” had been collected. What started as a simple idea to please customers during the Christmas season quickly went viral, with more than 25 million YouTube viewers of the WestJet Christmas miracle video. 

Whether it was a hearty gesture from WestJet to its customers, or just simply a smart piece of marketing to generate positive brand perception, or perhaps both, I must admit that the WestJet marketers did a fantastic job of positioning its brand in an absolutely stunning fashion. "It makes WestJet stand out as a company that goes outside of the norm to take care of its customers," said David Soberman,  the Canadian national chair of strategic marketing with the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.  For the full article see 'WestJet brand soars thanks to viral video hit' in Winnipeg Free Press.

I have watched this heart-warming video with my son many times, and believe it is an example of how miracles can be real if there is someone who makes them happen. Perhaps from this point forward he will start to believe in good marketers, rather than Santa Claus.

Elena Sveshnikova: Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School.


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