WestJet, the air carrier, has enhanced a variety of important metrics through creating viral content that is based around a diverse range of “PR stunts”.

Corey Evans, WestJet’s senior manager/content, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2019 Brand Activation Marketing Conference.

Over the past five years alone, he reported, the brand has amassed 100 million-plus video views – and billions of impressions – via a series of “PR stunts” that have translated into people buying seats on flights run by the Calgary, Alberta-based airline.

“We’re a challenger brand,” Evans explained, making this approach an ideal way to cut through the clutter without a huge spend. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Canada’s WestJet video storytelling travels all over the world with “PR stunts”.)

One case in point: an April Fools’ ruse that “encouraged our guests to hold their hands up in the air during landing and take-off for aerodynamics that would help us save for fuel costs. And, of course, we would pass the savings onto them”.

Similar efforts have enabled the brand to poke fun at Air Canada, its main rival in its home market, and tap into the cultural zeitgeist with the “Flyre Festival”, a comedic take on the disastrous Fyre Festival held in the Bahamas in 2017.

The brand has entered more emotional territory, too, with “Christmas miracles” videos which surprise people with festive gifts and has also highlighted not-for-profit tie-ups with various content plays.

And the benefits of this strategy have run from consumer engagement to attracting new talent, Evans told the ANA brand-activation assembly.

“We’ve done seven Christmas miracles,” he said. “From an internal standpoint, when it comes to hiring in our people department … some of the most frequent interview comments reference the Christmas miracles.”

Evans continued: “The future of PR, from our learnings, is really about technology. Once, we were happy just with media impressions.

“Now, we want to be able to retarget those [people] who are participating in the [videos]. We want to be able to track their website journey when they come and engage with our content.”

And there is a bottom line: WestJet knows it has sold millions of dollars “worth of flights to people who directly watched videos on our hub and then went and purchased tickets”.

Sourced from WARC