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WestJet had a very merry Christmas last year, all thanks to a heartstring-tugging video that went viral for the brand. And the airline is hoping for a repeat performance.
On Monday, WestJet released a new Christmas video in which its Santa (dressed in brand-appropriate blue instead of red) reappears. Last year, the Santa asked the airline's travelers what they wanted for Christmas, and surprised them at the baggage carousel with presents. This year, the company took the same idea to one of its frequent destinations: the Dominican Republic.
The company built a blue sleigh and brought it to the Puerto Plata community of Nuevo Renacar in November. When residents pressed a button, they could videoconference with Santa to tell him their wishes. The company then threw a Christmas party on the beach, complete with a tree and mounds of fake snow. It captured much of the story with hidden cameras.
Nuevo Renacar is one of four places the airline flies to in the Dominican Republic. Since 2012, the company has built 23 homes there as part of its charitable efforts. It worked with the charity Live Different on those projects, and also on its Christmas surprise.
Like last year, the Christmas video was created by WestJet's internal marketing team along with the production and content marketing agency studio m. Last year's video won awards at the prestigious Cannes advertising festival.
Emotional storytelling like this has become increasingly common for marketers in recent years. And there is good reason: beyond just the wish to do some good, companies who create an emotional connection with people can see a long-term benefit to their brands. Research has shown that emotional messages have a greater long-term impact on people's buying decisions than rational messages do. When people feel a connection with something, they are more likely to remember it.
Toronto-Dominion Bank created a similar video this summer, and was rewarded for it. Its "Thank You" video, which showed an ATM giving out special gifts to loyal customers has racked up more than 18-million views since July.