WestJet goes international with ‘Christmas Miracle’

The brand brings its experiential marketing stunt to the Dominican Republic

For its follow up to its marketing hit “Christmas Miracle,” WestJet flew a little further than it did last year.

This year the brand brought the Christmas experience to Nuevo Renacer, Dominican Republic; one of its international destinations. In a five-minute video released online Sunday night, WestJet sets up a sleigh in the town and asks locals to submit their Christmas wishes, just as it did in Canadian airports last year. The gifts were then delivered at a party WestJet held on the beach.

In the first 12 hours after it was uploaded, it was viewed more than 20,000 times.

To pull of the experiential stunt, WestJet worked with the Canadian charity Live Different, which sets up trips for volunteers to assist in development projects in countries like Haiti, Dominican Republic and Thailand. The brand has been working with Live Different since 2012, and has built 23 houses in the community as part of the partnership.

Greg Plata, WestJet’s team lead for sponsorship and experiential marketing (and one of Marketing‘s 2014 Top 30 Under 30), said when the brand decided to repeat its stunt from last year, it was looking for a new angle to approach it from and settled on the idea of “giving with a purpose.”

“We wanted to do something that was more about needs than wants,” Plata explained. He said people often poke fun at the man from the 2013 video who asked for socks, then saw another traveller receive a big screen TV. “We realized socks and underwear could be a magical gift for someone,” he said.

“For us, it was an opportunity to give back with a purpose and really try to make a difference in someone’s life, to bring that joy of the spirit of a Canadian or North American Christmas and try to share that with the world.”

The company also tried to add sustainable elements to the stunt. For example, instead of gift wrap, each of the gifts were delivered in a rubber box that can serve as something to store belongings in during the rainy season in the country, which is often plagued by floods. It also built a small playground in the community, to give the children in the area a permanent present. It also hired 40 locals to work as crew and translators.

The video was filmed by Studio M and will be promoted by Mosaic, with Media Experts handling the media buy.

According to Plata, the focus will be on sharing via social media, but the video will also be cut into a 30-second spot that will be shown in theatres across Canada.

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