Thousands of travel and hospitality industry employees spend the Christmas season ensuring that the rest of us get to where we’re going. But to brighten up the season for three such workers who couldn’t go be with their families this winter, WestJet decided to bring their families to them.
In a new ad titled “Holiday Heroes,” the Canadian airline is highlighting the stories of a trio of Vancouver-based essential travel workers; not WestJet employees—who are recognized separately in the opening of both the campaign’s marquee three-minute film and its shorter cuts—but rather those whose roles are often overlooked, but are no less important.
Showcased in the campaign are Ashley Springer, a bus driver with Vancouver’s TransLink public transit system; Killian Kampes, an Irish-born valet attendant at the city’s storied Fairmont Hotel; and Husan Gill, a ramp agent at Vancouver International Airport, each of whom shares why their careers matter to them.
But after revealing the emotional impact of not spending Christmas with their friends and relatives, a narrator chimes in: “Since they couldn’t be with their loved ones, we brought their loved ones to them.”
The spot was handled by independent Canadian shop Rethink, which was named Creative Agency of the Year on Ad Age’s 2023 A-List.
“While airlines, like WestJet, play a huge role [in holiday travel], there’s an entire community of people that also make it happen that we wanted to shine a light on,” said Leia Rogers, executive creative director at Rethink, who emphasized the ad’s focus on real peoples’ stories—and the meticulous planning needed to pull off all three surprise reunions.
To keep the campaign’s intentions secret, the agency initially told Springer, Kampes and Gill that they were participating in a documentary about travel industry employees who work over the holidays.
“For more than a decade, we have created meaningful holiday campaigns that give back to the people and communities we serve,” said Jennifer Callegaro, WestJet’s director of marketing, referring to the company’s annual “Christmas Miracle” efforts.
“We surveyed Canadians and 75% noted spending time together with loved ones is most important over the holidays. Knowing this, we were so excited to surprise just a few deserving heroes in this year’s campaign,” she said.
The campaign will air across broadcast TV, online video, movie theater screens and social media, including on WestJet’s own channels, beginning Dec. 1.
In addition, the campaign will have a 10-second video tied to an extension of its Holiday Hero program, in which any Canadian—travel industry worker or not—can nominate someone they believe deserves a Christmas family reunion, facilitated by WestJet.
Nominations are currently open on the airline’s website, where details of WestJet’s other holiday promotions, such as its Miracle Miles charitable donation scheme and its printable holiday e-card, can also be found.