New WestJet campaign says there’s no bull when you fly with them

Who: WestJet and Rethink for creative, with Media Experts for media, Scouts Honour for production and The Vanity on computer generated effects.

What: A new ad campaign that is more pointed than usual for WestJet. In the past the airline has mostly talked about what it is; this campaign also talks about what the competition is. It isn’t flattering.

When & Where: The campaign is going live today with TV, digital and out-of-home, running nationally through the holidays.

Why: As the airline expands internationally, it’s eager to remind people of its founding brand ethos of more humane, friendlier service. “We want the travelling public to know that as we become a global network carrier, we will never lose sight of the caring WestJet touch,” said Richard Bartrem, WestJet’s vice-president marketing communications, in a release.

“WestJet is a challenger brand,” said Rethink’s creative director Christina Yu. “We wanted to show what differentiates WestJet from the herd, and that is their continued commitment to care, their promise to never overbook flights, and to always get you to your destination on time.”

How: “Herd” is the key word in that answer. Creative vividly depicts the way other airlines treat customers like cattle, with delays, over-bookings and indifferent customer service. Human WestJet passengers stroll through the bovine madness to the airline’s customer service desk and its friendly agents.

“We took a tongue-in-cheek approach to show where [WestJet goes] above and beyond the others in the category,” said Yu. “[T]o prove our differences, it is definitely more confrontational than WestJet has ever been.”

The making of…  The ad was shot at an abandoned airport outside Madrid. A few real cows were used, but there’s a lot of great CGI here (see the making of video below). It’s also soundtracked by the New Order classic “Blue Monday.”

Why Blue Monday? “It was the lyrics,” said Yu. “‘How does it feel, to treat me like you do.’ The lyrics were perfect in terms of telling the story. But it didn’t feel too deep or too dark. That is not WestJet.”

Client quote: “Travel can be unpredictable and this campaign represents how we will always try to put ourselves in our guests shoes by delivering the caring guest experience that has made WestJet stand out from the herd.” —Richard Bartrem, WestJet VP marketing communications.

David Brown