Air Canada affirms its commitment to the air (and the land, and water)

Who: Air Canada, with FCB Canada for strategy and creative; Ad Hoc Content for production (directed by Peter Livolsi) and Berkeley for sound.

What: “Being Nice to the Planet While Discovering It,” a new online campaign showcasing the airline’s continuing environmental efforts as part of its Leave Less, Do More strategy. It is the company’s first dedicated brand spot about its environmental commitments.

When & Where: The campaign is in market now, running as online video across paid social and digital, as well as Air Canada’s owned and operated channels.

Why: The campaign is intended to communicate Air Canada’s progress around its Leave Less, Do More strategy to minimize its environmental impact. It has committed to a goal of net-zero emissions from its global operations by 2050.

Last year’s Climate Action Plan outlined several of the milestones Air Canada wants to hit on its way to net-zero, including mid-term carbon reduction targets of 20% from its air operations (compared to 2019) and 30% from its ground operations by 2030. Steps include more efficient aircraft, leading edge aircraft technologies, the identification of energy-efficient opportunities, and integrating renewable energy technology in its facilities, and a $50 million investment in sustainable aviation fuels.

“We continue to make progress on our climate, waste and other environmental objectives and believe it is important to inform customers on the actions we are taking to improve our environmental footprint,” said vice-president of safety Samuel Elfassy.

How: The 30-second anchor spot features what Air Canada’s vice-president of brand Andy Shibata described as an “action-forward, environmentally conscious traveller” named Chloe, who is committed to doing her part for the planet while discovering it.

The spot follows Chloe as she goes about her day while engaging in a variety of environmentally friendly activities, from using her own wooden eating utensils, to travelling by bike and recycling. “Like Air Canada, she’s determined to leave less waste, and keep her carbon footprint to a minimum,” says the voiceover.

“We think Chloe helps embody the ideal Air Canada traveller, as her actions mirror the values Air Canada stands by and helps customers understand that we are on the same journey,” said Shibata. “Following this young, environmentally conscious traveller helps create a vision that customers can relate to and helps reflect Air Canada’s actions.”

Any concern about this being perceived as greenwashing? The aviation industry generates about 2% of all global CO2 emissions, but has been actively trying to curb emissions in recent years. At the same time, there’s growing skepticism among younger generations, and Gen Z in particular, about companies attempting to “greenwash’ their carbon-intensive industries.

“We hear you.” said Shibata. “Air Canada is committed to playing its role and being leaders in pursuit of this goal. We will continue to pursue and invest in sound solutions as we seek to overcome these challenges. Both our industry and Air Canada have a long way to go, but our commitments have enabled us to begin and pursue our efforts toward achieving our long-term goal of net-zero by 2050.”

And we quote: “Environmental sustainability and considerations are integrated into our business decisions at Air Canada and is increasingly important to our customers,” said Elfassy. “In 2021, we released our long-term commitment to advancing climate change sustainability throughout our business with ambitious climate targets to realize a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions throughout our global operations by 2050. This commitment is one way we continue to demonstrate our dedication to environmental sustainability.”

Chris Powell