Air Canada’s Fan Flight program returns

Who: Air Canada, with Weber Shandwick for PR.

What: The latest instalment in the airline’s Fan Flight program, now in its sixth year. The program honours people who have contributed to their community by providing them with VIP treatment, including free flights, gifts and tickets to sporting events.

When & Where: Videos are appearing on Air Canada’s dedicated Fan Flight hub, while each of the seven professional sports teams sponsored by the airline is sharing the videos on their social platforms between April 27 and May 6. Paid media support for the program continues through the first round of the NHL playoffs.

Why: Véronique Poulin, manager, sports marketing and events for Air Canada, said that the program helps the airline go “above and beyond” with its sports sponsorships, while also showcasing their shared brand values.

This year, the program is helping Air Canada maintain its market profile when travel is prohibited. “Although most Canadians are not be able to experience sport events or travel the way they used to, and we are not operating to the level we wish we were, it’s important for us to maintain a market presence during these difficult times,” said Poulin.

“We’re still committed to giving back and celebrating deserving fans who are champions within their community.”

How: Each of the videos shows people who have contributed to the good of their community in some way being thanked by Air Canada employees and through video messages from team players and coaches. Each gift package includes flight tickets for when it’s safe to travel as well as tickets to a game when arenas reopen.

This year’s batch of honourees includes Tara, an employee of MLSE LauchPad’s youth council since its inception and a strong advocate for the city’s Black community; Jasmine, an employee of BC Children’s Hospital employee and a mental health advocate; and Olu, a youth mentor committed to amplifying BIPOC voices (see their videos below).

What does marketing look like for the rest of 2021: “We know that if we want people to travel, we have to provide customers with peace of mind and show that we’re doing everything we can to keep it that way,” said Poulin. “This will be at the forefront of our marketing for the foreseeable future.

“The silver lining to this unfortunate situation is that it has pushed us to break down silos and made us more nimble and more collaborative across all branches. We are ready to tackle any new challenges that come our way… and we now adapt faster than we’ve ever been able to before—from marketing to network planning and everything in between.”

And we quote: “We take enormous pride in supporting Canada’s NHL and NBA teams. Sports unite, and our goal is always to connect with Canadians. This is even more important right now, when we most need to rally around what we stand for as Canadians, to help get us though some really tough times.” — Véronique Poulin, manager, sports marketing and events, Air Canada

Chris Powell