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Air Canada takes on WestJet with holiday video of its own

WestJet Airlines Ltd. is having a happy holiday season. Not only will its planes soon be full with travellers paying peak-period prices to see their families at Christmas, but its latest campaign has drawn more than 1.5 million views in just two days. And its biggest competitor has decided it wants in on the action.

On Wednesday, Air Canada released its own Christmas video featuring two pilots surprising 200 Canadians in London, England, with tickets home for the holidays.

WestJet had much more success with its Christmas video last year than the company expected – with more than 36 million views, awards at the Cannes advertising festival, and some goodwill fostered among prospective customers.

These kinds of ads are designed for the online space, where companies have to use different tactics than in their regular commercials. The storytelling has to be good enough, and it must have an emotional impact, if people are going to be convinced to share an ad with their friends.

That’s partly why there are so many more advertisers churning out emotional videos these days.

Air Canada’s campaign had a lightning-fast turnaround for its agency, JWT Canada. The shoot at the Maple Leaf London pub happened just six days ago, on Nov. 27. Patrons were invited to the pub for"a taste of home" that evening, in order to set up the surprise.

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