Oh my! Air Canada enlists a Canadian star for its new campaign

Who: Air Canada and FCB Canada, with Holiday Films for production, Saints for editing, Alter Ego for colour transfer, Apollo Studios for music and Weber Shandwick for PR.

What: “Travel like a Canadian,” a new campaign starring Canadian actress Sandra Oh showing how Canadians interact with other cultures abroad. The campaign is part of a broader international effort intended to position Air Canada as an alternative to domestic airlines in those markets.

When & Where: The campaign broke Oct. 7 and runs through Nov. 25. It uses 15, 30 and 137-second ads on digital and social channels, with an emphasis on audiences in the U.S., U.K. Australia, Japan, France and Canada. The ads are also appearing on Air Canada-owned channels and in-flight following the safety video.

WhyOne of Air Canada’s ambitions is to become a top 10 airline globally, says managing director of brand Andy Shibata, and it’s trying to achieve that goal is by making its identity as Canada’s national carrier known internationally.

“Canadians are some of the most loved travellers, and we fly the best of Canada around the world every single day,” he says. “It only made sense for us to create this ad and celebrate the values that make Canada so great.” 

Air Canada has a growing network of nearly 220 airports on six continents, and is actively trying to encourage long-haul passengers to use its Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver hubs when flying internationally.

How: The anthem spot features the Killing Eve star demonstrating how she brings “a little more Canada” to the world, from making peace between a pair of squabbling siblings by giving them poutine, to introducing an Asian traveller to the Caesar (“Is this a drink or meal?” he asks. “Exactly,” Oh responds), to showing respect from cultures from India to Australia.

Why Sandra Oh? “Sandra Oh is one of Hollywood’s best-known Canadian actors,” says Shibata. “She also embodies the Canadian identity with her worldwide reputation of conducting herself with kindness and compassion. Working with Sandra was an easy choice.”

Any other Canadian celebrities? “Yes! There’s more to come from the campaign soon, including more celebrity partnerships,” says Shibata. If Ryan Reynolds isn’t among them, we riot.

Any link to the Fly the Flag campaign? “While #FlyTheFlag has a similar message of Canadian pride and love of country, this is a separate campaign directed at an international audience,” says Shibata.

And we quote: We’re excited to have created a platform for Canadians like Sandra Oh to encourage the world to share some of the values that make Canada great. Sharing values like multiculturalism, diversity, openness, compassion and equality will help bring the world a little more of Canada when they travel.” —Andy Shibata, managing director, brand for Air Canada

Chris Powell