Air Canada’s holiday ad is for the birds

Who: Air Canada, with FCB Canada for strategy and creative, Zombie for animation.

What: “Together for the Holidays,” a new Christmas spot featuring what the airline describes as “a message of togetherness.” It’s the second year in a row that Air Canada has opted for an animated holiday spot, following last year’s “‘Tis the Season to Believe.”

When & Where: The campaign debuted today with a 90-second ad running in cinema, 60- and 30-second ads running on TV, and a 15-second spot running on social and digital.

Why: While Air Canada’s recent holiday ads have implicitly referenced the pandemic (last year’s spot, for example, featured people living in snow globes, a pretty on-the-nose reference to pandemic bubbles), this is the first time since before the pandemic that it is telling more of a pre-Covid story about bringing people together for the holidays.

How: The 90-second ad tells the story of a young Loon flying south for the winter that gets separated from its parents when a snow storm blows it off-course. It ends up in Santa’s workshop, where it befriends a duck pull toy, before being reunited with its family somewhere in the south, courtesy of Santa.

“Being together is what the holidays are all about,” said FCB’s executive creative director, Jeremiah McNama. “We wanted to tell a story that would capture the hearts and minds of Canadians, and thought the best way to do that was through one of our most iconic and beloved animals—the loon.”

McNama said that consumers have become accustomed to beautifully animated films (such as IGA’s annual holiday campaign) and the goal was to create a piece that not only matched that expectation, but surpassed it. “Together with our animation partner, Zombie I think we achieved that,” said McNama.

In keeping with Air Canada’s tradition of using Canadian music to soundtrack its holiday ads, this year’s ad features two Canadian performers: “Where You Are” by acclaimed country star Tenille Townes, and “Les échardes” by four-time Juno Award winner Charlotte Cardin.

And we quote: “It’s been a tradition for us to use magic and wonder in our storytelling when it comes to our holiday ads, as it is one of the most celebrated and heartfelt times of the year. Air Canada takes great pride in being the airline that plays a role in uniting family and friends to help them celebrate these special times.” — Andy Shibata, vice president, brand, Air Canada

Chris Powell