WestJet surprises travelers with a Christmas miracle

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WestJet Flash Mob

After their flashmob viral video campaign last year, WestJet knew they had to make ‘giving’ look its best this Christmas.

Christmas miracles really do happen. A team of Westjetters and the power of technology brought this heartwarming campaign to life.

“T’was a night before Christmas, and all across the land… the good folks at WestJet had a miracle plan.”

As families were waiting at the departure area prior to their WestJet flight at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton, a big blue box decorated as a present caught their eye. On one side of the box was a screen with an interactive Santa all dressed in blue. Upon scanning their boarding passes (loaded with personal I.D. info) a Santa addressed the passengers by name, asking them what they wanted for Christmas. Toddlers stared, old ladies giggled and mothers’ jaws dropped as jolly old Saint Nick asked them personally what they would like this Christmas.

While Santa asked and passengers answered, a team of WestJet employees tuned in and took notes of each request. WestJetters then quickly shopped and shopped at stores like 17th Avenue S.W., Best Buy, and CrossIron Mills to find everything on the list for those lucky Calgary-bound flights.

“But was everything ready? We all had to wait… For the moment of truth, at Carousel 8.”

The real magic happened when passengers were surprised with a snowy Christmas landscape at the baggage claim area upon their arrival. This time, WestJet Santa was there in the flesh along with a gingerbread man mascot. When the baggage claim light came on, a succession of presents rolled in. Tagged by name, the well-branded blue and white gifts made their way into the arms of the smiling travelers. As requested, the young family got the ‘big TV’ they wanted and the dad got his ‘socks and underwear’. Some lucky families even got a Christmas flight home.

Studio M, a digital production company based out of Toronto started brainstorming with WestJet’s sponsorship lead Greg Plata in August to make this miracle come to life. The video was posted to WestJet’s YouTube page on Sunday, December 8th and quickly sparked an online buzz that is sure to carry through until Christmas.

The stunt was impeccably branded and seamless, it is no wonder blogs are saying “WestJet’s Christmas surprise will make you believe in Santa.”

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good flight!”


The LEGO Legacy: 5 Ways LEGO Appeals to New Audiences

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By Jarrett Hather

As a kid, I had no idea LEGO® sets were targeted to me. Where did my parents keep their toys?

Growing up in the 90s, the small diversity of LEGO gave me the impression that, had I travelled to other countries, I would find localized LEGO sets of landmarks everywhere: the archipelagos of Japan, the Great Pyramid at Giza, or a massive coral reef LEGO set. Back then, almost everything LEGO was called the LEGO SYSTEM whether you owned the nautical set, police enforcement set, or Shell gas set. Being in the LEGO SYSTEM also meant everything fitThe interlockability of LEGO bricks dates back to the first manufacture of LEGO in 1958:

Lego pieces of all varieties constitute a universal system. Despite variation in the design and purpose of individual pieces over the years, each remains compatible in some way with existing pieces. Lego bricks from 1958 still interlock with those made in the current time, and Lego sets for young children are compatible with those made for teenagers.

LEGO Wikipedia


The LEGO SYSTEM allowed the LEGO universe to coexist from legacy to present-day, but my childhood fantasy regarding LEGO sets in other countries was completely wrong. I asked Katie Bushey, assistant manager of brand relations at the LEGO Group, to clarify their product line-up for me:

All of our LEGO products are available globally and are available in all markets; individual products are not made for certain countries. The LEGO products found in a store in the US are the same as the LEGO products in stores in the other countries.

Katie Bushey, assistant manager, brand relations, LEGO Group

Then how has LEGO managed to rake in more revenue than ever in 2012?

I’ll tell you.

1. Create a New Market in Your Target Age Group and Attract More Adults

LEGO Minifigures Series 2
LEGO Minifigures Series 2

Initially shot down because “we’re a building toy company, not a minifig company”, the idea for collectible LEGO minifigures was to attract children who were also interested in collectibles. In May 2010, series 1 debuted in unmarked packaging with random figures. Each themed set has a total of 16 figurines and to date 12 series exist. A new series is released approximately every four months (design details). The idea was successful, and LEGO now attracts a new market of child collectors.

LEGO Architecture Robie House
LEGO Architecture Robie House

LEGO Architecture celebrates famous landmarks and feats of architecture through LEGO bricks. Launched in 2008, LEGO Architecture has been reviewed favourably. “This has actually increased the breadth of the adult fan population, as more adults that were formerly non-LEGO buyers are attracted by interesting and good-looking sets.” says LEGO buff, David Eaton at Forbes. Marina Bay Sands, the next LEGO Architecture set, is due October 2013.

2. Timely Trendy Products

LEGO Star Wars has been around for a while, but as the Star Wars universe expanded with a prequel trilogy, video games, spin-off series, and more and more borrowing of the brand by others, so too did LEGO need to expand its Star Wars line-up. Beginning in 2005, LEGO released its first video game LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game based on the prequel trilogy and followed-up with four other Star Wars themed video games. In 2008, to coincide with the television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, LEGO released a themed set based on The Clone Wars. Several CGI Star Wars LEGO movies have also been made, such as LEGO Star Wars: Bombad Bounty (2010), LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace (2011), and LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out (2012).

LEGO continues to follow cool trends in their The Lord of the Rings and Minecraft sets.

LEGO The Clone Wars
LEGO Minecraft
LEGO Minecraft

3. Comic Licensing

LEGO Superheroes

It’s no surprise LEGO has bandwagoned on to this surging trend. Over 50 films based on superheroes have been made since 2005. By 2012, LEGO had its Marvel Comics and DC Comics licensing in place, and the release of sets and minifigures continue to coincide with those films.

4. LEGO Video Games

LEGO Universe

Apart from Star Wars games, LEGO has been diligent creating video games from 2010 onwards. LEGO releases video games on all consoles, handheld consoles, as well as PC and Mac. The games cover racing, shooters, real-time strategy, open world, and even massively multiplayer online games. That’s just about every gaming genre excluding adventure. LEGO’s next massively multiplayer online game is based on its Minifigures line-up.

5. Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOL)

Did you know adult fans of LEGO (AFOL) are a demographic to the company? In their company profile, LEGO has quantified the sales impact of its adult audience:

Just below five per cent of the LEGO sales goes to a large and loyal group, called AFOLs – Adult Fans of LEGO.

The LEGO Group

To LEGO, some sets deserve equal consideration. “With LEGO Star Wars, adults are equally considered.” said the LEGO company in an interview here.

As the adult market grew, LEGO listened: “Our adult audience is very important to us and we will continue to produce the larger, more intricate sets.” said the company.

With their excellent up-and-up performance since 2006, it’s entirely likely LEGO is on its way to breaking another record for 2013.


Algonquin College’s Social Media Certificate Program posted a similar entry about LEGO last week.

Why Was 2012 LEGO’s Most Successful Year In Terms of Revenue?

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lego

Thank you, Katie Bushey at LEGO.

Start the day happy with luck from the Loom.

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So we all have that lucky pair of underwear. That pair you were wearing when you scored the winning goal, that pair you were wearing when that cute boy finally asked you out, or that pair you were wearing when you just happened to win the lottery. lucky looms boxers 2

Fruit of the Loom realized the potential the “luck of the Irish” could bring to their business, socially and financially, and decided on something creative to kick-start their Start Happy campaign.

The Start Happy campaign is Fruit of the Loom’s way to prove that positivity can greatly effect someone’s day for the better. Their team believes that by making their product lucky, their customers can physically wear their confidence and start the day right.

Aww, isn’t that cute? And surprisingly relatable.

Fruit of the Loom conducted a recent study that proved that having a lucky charm boosts an American’s positivity (31%), along with their optimism (41%) and confidence (25%). These numbers prove that this stunt has correlated people’s positive feelings to Fruit of the Loom, specifically.

I want a pair.

On November 6, 2013 in the United States, Fruit of the Loom created 2,000 pairs of their own legitimate lucky underwear by imprinting luck on each individual pair.

giant horseshoeThey started off by creating 1,000 pairs of lucky looms for men and 1,000 pairs of lucky looms for women.

Then, they took those pairs and passed them via wire though the world’s biggest horseshoe in Illinois.

After that, their team rubbed lucky pennies on each individual pair of lucky looms and then threw the pennies into a wishing well in Chinatown, LA.

Then, if each pair didn’t have enough luck already, the team
rubbed each pair on considerable lucky statues in Nevada. rubbing statue

Their final attempt to embody as much luck as possible into each and every pair was to “bake” them in a box covered in four-leaf clovers for 7 hours and 77 minutes, in Alaska. Which I guess equals to 8 hours and 17 minutes, but that just wouldn’t work for this whole stunt, would it?

Fruit of the Loom even took one step further and destroyed the pairs of underwear numbered 13 and 666. With so much bad
luck associated with those two numbers, Fruit of the Loom
wanted to keep their promise true.

four leaf cloversIt’s refreshing to see how Fruit of the Loom used something so simple to connect with its audience and make their product so attractive.  Within their first hour of sales, 528 pairs of lucky looms were sold. With popular competitors such as Calvin Klein and Bjorn, Fruit of the Loom used this stunt to not only differentiate themselves from other brand names, but to easily sell their products as well.

“Lucky Looms” were only a fraction of Fruit of the Loom’s Start Happy campaign. Other stunts were “Don’t Sweat It” which was geared toward their activewear including iPhone pockets, and “Fresh Gigs” which was geared toward giving people with new jobs a fresh pair of underwear.

#luckylooms tweetFruit of the Loom even took this campaign further by taking it to Twitter. Customers who bought the product were encouraged to use the hashtag #LuckyLooms and express their own personal stories and photos about their recently purchased “lucky undies”.

The Start Happy campaign is anything but lucky! The team from Fruit of the Loom strategically thought of everything to make sure their lucky looms were full of luck! I can’t wait for their next campaign so I can grab a pair myself!

Gap’s “Make Love” Holiday Campaign Makes Waves

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The American multinational clothing retailer Gap has released the holiday extension of its “Back to Blue” campaign launched earlier this fall. The holiday campaign called “Make Love” showcases the things that matter most in life — genuine love, respect, and compassion.

The U.S. campaign starring cultural icons from around the world includes print ads, mail, social media and television ads. New digital content is also unveiled regularly on the brand’s YouTube account.

“Make Love is about giving love through action, whether it’s a service to others or a gift that’s a representation of love,”  -Seth Farbman, Gap’s Global Chief Marketing Officer.

Gap has collaborated with celebrities who have been sharing true love with their field of work and their social lives. The famous personalities modeled Gap’s 2013 holiday collection in the ads, adding a personalized touch to the garments. All stills starring celebrities such as Tony Bennett, Cyndi Lauper, Waris Ahluwalia, Malin Akerman, along with other personalities and famous models can be found on the official Pinterest page of the brand.

On November 24th, a tweet by Arsalan Iftikhar (@TheMuslimGuy) was sent along with a shot of a vandalized “Make Love” print ad. Gap’s still of Sikh model Waris Ahluwalia and model and film-maker Quentin Jones located in New York City had been marked with very racist comments. The campaign’s tagline had the word “Love” crossed out and replaced with “Bombs,” and “Please stop driving taxis,” scribbled a little lower.


(via Twitter, @TheMuslimGuy)

The ad had been received so well, encouraging and promoting interracial love and diversity in America. Several tweets and articles rooted for Gap’s campaign and what it stood for.

Due to this appreciation for the campaign, the vandalism was quickly reported on Twitter. This gave Gap an opportunity to excel in public relations reaction skills and problem solving.

The very next day, Gap proudly changed their Twitter account’s header to the Ahluwalia-Jones still, and professionally responded to the tweet asking for more information from the sender, Iftikhar, so that the ad could be taken down and replaced.


“@TheMuslimGuy Hi there. Thanks for informing us. Can you please follow & DM us? We’d like to know the location of this.” – @Gap

Upon its re-installment on November 28th (four days after the original vandalized poster was tweeted) the new ad was trending all over the Internet.


The “Make Love” campaign’s poster of musician Malcolm Ford and actor Max Snow has also been vandalized with hate speech in Chicago. The poster was defaced with homophobic comments and was also quickly made public on Twitter by JK Trudell (@jktrudell), and Gap replied shortly thereafter.


Considering the fact that the hate speech on these ads dealt with touchy issues like race and homosexuality, the brand reacted quickly and effectively. Gap’s public efforts to fix these vandalized ads are impressive and well worth the buzz they have generated.

What do you think of Gap’s “Make Love” campaign and of their efforts in restoring the campaign’s image and message?


Read the rest of this entry »

They call me “Macca’s”. That’s not my name. That’s not my name.

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ImageMcDonald’s restaurants are publicly recognized in six of the seven continents on the planet. The world famous company claims to operate in 119 countries, with over 33,000 restaurants worldwide.


Now with this much branding, how could McDonald’s possibly relate to smaller, more intimate communities?

McDonald’s Australia CMO Mark Lollback knew just the answer.

This year in January, the world famous company changed its name to Macca’s at 13 restaurant locations throughout the country in celebration of Australia Day and its 40th anniversary.

Studies have shown that over 50 per cent of Australians have adopted the bubbly nickname for the world’s most beloved burger joint.

“Aussies are extremely proud of who we are and where we’re from, and part of being an Aussie or being accepted by Aussies is to be given a nickname – it’s a unique and defining element of Australian culture.” – Mark Lollback

As a Public Relations student, I find this campaign quite thoughtful and unique. Nicknames are used as a shorter pronunciation of a name or title, but can also be used as a connection between two people to strengthen their relationship. Lollback’s plan was to strengthen the company’s relationship with its Australian demographic by changing its brand to a commonly known nickname among the people.


As part of the DDB campaign, McDonald’s used TV, print, digital, outdoor, PR and social executions to introduce their new Aussie Tastes Menu. McDonald’s could not have picked a better time to execute this PR Stunt. Physically changing the name on their signs occurred during the first week of January until February 4, during the nation’s holiday when morale was high. This was their final tactic for introducing their new Aussie Tastes Menu.

“One of McDonald’s strengths is our global consistency, but also our ability to meet customer demands locally.” – Mark Lollback

My name is Dylan Cain and I have more nicknames than I can count. Some people call me Dill, while others call me Cainer, Dilly, D-Man, or Dill-Pickle. The list goes on and on. When someone calls me by any nickname, I instantly feel special. McDonalds Australia took this idea upon them to further identify with their audience and make their campaign special, too.

Coca-Cola Launches Stevia Sweetened Cola Beverage with Biomimic Marketing

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By Jarrett Hather

To get more in-depth with Coca-Cola’s green image, I will focus on the use of biomimic marketing in Coca-Cola’s new sugar-alternative drink Coca-Cola Life.

Launched in Argentina and Chile in 2013, Coca-Cola Life is the brand’s third low-calorie sweetener soda beverage, and its first made with naturally derived stevia leaf extract and regular sugar. The benefits? A 60 per cent reduction in calories versus regular Coca-Cola from using stevia, and the sweetener will not affect blood glucose or insulin levels – stevia may even promote insulin production. To appear in keeping with its new green image, Coca-Cola Life is made even greener with a fully-recyclable plant-based bottle.

Now stevia has been around for a while, but not clearly in mainstream products. Do you recognize any of these?

Zevia Soda

Stevia Sweetener

Didn’t think so. How about these?

SpriteVitamin Water Zero

They’re one of 45 products Coca-Cola add stevia to. Plain ol’ Sprite, now with stevia, was introduced to France in 2012 and spread to the UK in 2013.

Inevitably, this trend has everything to do with biomimic marketing, which uses images of nature to market a product. Next Nature explores the relation between people and nature and describes this marketing practice simply:

Nature is a terrific marketing tool and corporations know this. Somehow the natural reference provides us with a familiar feeling of recognition and trust. We call this phenomenon Bio-mimic-marketing.

Here are some examples from the Coca-Cola Life Facebook page marketed in a lifestyle and natural setting:





The photos are awash with earth tones, Instagram-like candids, and a close connection to the environment; all of this is a response to consumers demanding corporate environmental accountability. And it works. In June 2013, Reuters wrote about the decline in sodas in the United States and the need to break the barriers to consumption.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, told a conference hosted by Bernstein Research in May that a breakthrough in sweetener technology could help reverse the decline in sodas in the United States and that it needed to occur sooner rather than later.

“A global roll-out seems likely.” says Bill Pecoriello, an analyst with Consumer Edge Research. PepsiCo had mixed results with its use of stevia in cola, but Pecoriello believes an initiative by Coca-Cola will spur PepsiCo’s innovation.

Coca-Cola goes further to remind us of all things relatable – chicken wraps and garden weeds – with its own collection of moments: first kisses!

If launched in North America, is this the right tactic? Does Coca-Cola need to change its familia-oriented Coca-Cola Life website?

Coca-Cola holds 50 per cent market share in Argentina. If Coca-Cola Life is successfully introduced, is this telling of health conscious attitudes held everywhere?

If consumers stay educated, this is the way to go.