Santa Flies WestJet to Grant Real-time Christmas Wishes

DanielleB    November 11, 2015

Title of Post: Santa Flies WestJet to Grant Real-time Christmas Wishes

WestJet Logo

Organization Name: WestJet

Industry: Airline

Web references:, The WestJet blog, Shorty Awards, Globacore


So often I hear people say “We want to make a viral video,” but a viral video cannot just be created. A video becomes viral, and for that to happen, you must first create something that people will want to share. In 2013, WestJet did just that.

At the airport, waiting to board their flights, passengers on two Calgary-bound WestJet planes were asked to scan their boarding passes at a kiosk and when they did, Santa would appear on the screen to ask them what they wanted for Christmas. Little did they know, a team of over 150 WestJet volunteers were standing-by to hit the ground running to grant all of the guests’ wishes.

When the flights landed in Calgary, the unsuspecting passengers gathered around the luggage carousel to retrieve their belongings, but instead, beautifully wrapped gifts appeared with their names on them. Hidden cameras recorded the entire “real-time gift giving” experience and WestJet posted the “WestJet Christmas Miracle: Real-time giving” video on their YouTube channel on December 8th, 2013.

The entire gift giving stunt took over three months of planning and with the help of 19 hidden cameras, WestJet was able to create what would become, a viral video with unprecedented results.

WestJet Viral Video Stats


Image credit:

On the day after its launch, the feel-good video was the #1 trending topic around the word. It was viewed in over 235 countries and had more than 1600. It also caught the attention of mainstream media, with the campaign being mentioned in over 1600 media stories, gaining 328 million media impressions around the world.

Christmas Mircle Tweets

The unbelievable stats don’t stop there. What made this campaign so successful, was the impact that it had on their bottom-line. Compared to the same time period the year before, bookings were up by 77% and revenue had increased by an incredible 86%.

With the overwhelming success of the Christmas miracle campaign in 2013, WestJet wanted to continue spreading joy through giving, so in 2014 they launched the “WestJet Christmas Miracle: Spirit of Giving” campaign. WestJet placed a sled in the Puerto Plata community of Nuevo Renacer, a destination that WestJet has serviced for several years and one in which WestJet volunteers have built homes for residents.

Similar to the real-time giving campaign, WestJet recorded the Christmas wishes of the community’s residents from a blue sled placed in the middle of the neighborhood. Residents were then presented with their wishes on the beach which was transformed into a winter wonderland complete with fake snow, a Christmas tree and fireworks.

Now, with Christmas around the corner, I can’t wait to see what WestJet will be doing this year in the spirit of the season.

Lessons for others

The big takeaway from, what now seems to have become an annual campaign, is that  Social media takes traditional marketing methods and flips it on its head.

WestJet did not put out a video showcasing the wonderful service they provide or the great food and leg room on their planes, instead they wanted to show customers that they truly care. They did this by creating a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience for 250 people, videotaped it and distributed it to the world.

It would be hard to find a single person who has seen the video and did not have a an emotional response to it. Just looking at some of the comments on the video tell you that people really seemed to enjoy it. Not only that, but the fact that it went viral so quickly is truly telling of how the public felt about the video’s message.

Scott Cook, the co-founder of Intuit has a great way of explaining how social media affects marketing today. “A brand is no longer what we tell the customer it is – it is what the customers tell each other it is.” In the case of the WestJet Christmas Miracle video, WestJet wanted customers to know that they care, and I think it’s safe to say that we heard them loud and clear.

Submitted By: Danielle Bozzo

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