How WestJet Taught Us Going Bigger Can Save Money

westjet christmas miracleIt seems that most of the world is still buzzing over the magic that a popular Canadian airline created with a viral video campaign. When I saw WestJet’s Christmas Miracle video, I looked at what they did as I thought how they must have one of the smartest marketing teams in the world right now.

The cost associated with pulling off a stunt of that magnitude is likely to be astronomical, the logistics were amazing but you know what…I’m convinced it’s going to end up being the cheapest advertising they have ever done.

It’s Called Leverage

If you can leverage your marketing budget, it will be much more successful. WestJet just leveraged their budget and got the kind of coverage they could have never paid for during the busiest time of year. There is no way they would have been able to buy the amount of advertising they got across the web and on television, even if they could afford it.

In Brett Wilson’s book, Redefining Success: Still Making Mistakes, he talked about leveraging his marketing budget and this is exactly what WestJet did. WestJet built an event that everybody wants to be involved in that had their name on it in the end with everyone else actually footing the bill. Now they did start with a massive budget but when compared to the results they got from it that quickly becomes an insignificant number.

Mind you I say all this with no idea what all the numbers add up to in the end but there is no number that encapsulates the powerful emotional response that I’ve witnessed in people across the world since it went viral. People are not only sharing it, they are going out of their way to talk about it with others and they are genuinely passionate about what WestJet did for their customers.

This Is What We Call “Outside The Box”

In an industry that is not known for doing stunts, WestJet did something different that launched them to the center of all our attentions during the highest grossing quarter of the year (for most retail industries).

They looked at their budget and asked themselves how they could take that budget and multiply it substantially without spending more cash. They wanted to do something that would catch on, something that would be noticed, something a little different.

Make Your Marketing Newsworthy

WestJet created a stunt that has been picked up by news across the world. Why? Because it’s good news! We don’t get enough of these heartwarming stories on TV or the Internet so it really makes our day when hear about a story like this. And we’re all still laughing and talking about the guy who asked for socks and underwear.

I look at that stunt and I see what makes WestJet different. Their competition is taking out full-page ads in all the major newspapers to promote TVs in the back of their headrests. The costs associated with that type of advertising is astronomical today and the ROI is at record lows.

In fact, I was recently on a flight with an unnamed WestJet competitor and noticed their full-page ad in the National Post about having unlimited movies in every seat and my TV didn’t work. WestJet didn’t even take out an ad but grabbed the attention and hearts millions of people.

There in lies the two distinctly different marketing tactics that exist today.

Timing Couldn’t Be Better For WestJet

WestJet recently announced how they are going international earlier this year. They could not have possibly asked for a better viral campaign to kick off their reputation in the global airline arena.

It’s not just Canada that is talking about them and their Christmas Miracle video, major media from around the entire world has run the story. The implications for their brand are enormous. WestJet is no longer that airline that exclusively handles short run flights like Vancouver to Calgary. They are now connected with other major airlines with the ability to send passengers all over the world.

That officially makes this viral video campaign a world-class marketing stunt.

I sit here and watch this video and I think…this is the future. This is what we’re talking about when we say you need to have a digital presence. Businesses that do not have a digital presence are not going to be as successful as they were in the past. WestJet’s stunt is a prime example of a powerful digital presence.

Are you ready for the future?

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