WestJet’s Latest Attempt At A Viral Video Is… Unusual

Filed Under: Other Airlines, Videos

WestJet is known for their viral marketing videos, which come in a few different forms. Perhaps the two most popular varieties are their Christmas Miracle videos, as well as their April Fools’ videos, which seem to be an annual thing.

WestJet’s most popular video ever was their 2013 Christmas Miracle, which has almost 50 million views on YouTube. It’s brilliant in every way, and you can see how much effort went into it, how it caught people off guard, etc.

WestJet’s 2012 April Fools’ joke was pretty amazing as well, as they claimed to introduce child free cabins.

Yesterday WestJet published their last big “surprise” video, which I assume they’re hoping to make viral. However, I’m not sure it’ll be especially successful, because it’s just plain strange.

The surprise revolves around a WestJet flight from Toronto to Las Vegas, and is intended to celebrate that WestJet has been flying to Las Vegas for over 21 years, and has transported more passengers to Las Vegas than any other international airline.

So what they do is set up a massive lights display in the middle of Utah, so that passengers on one specific flight can see it as they approach Las Vegas. They spent months planning this, and crews spent a week on the ground in Utah installing all the lights, as the diameter of the lights was over one kilometer.

By doing this WestJet broke two Guinness World Records — the greatest light output in a projected image, and the largest circular projection. Boy, you really can create just about any category you want in order to break a world record.

Before I say more, here’s the video:

And here’s the behind the scenes video, which provides some much needed details about how this all worked:

On one hand the lights display itself is impressive, while on the other hand I find this whole thing to be a stretch. So WestJet spent (presumably) tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars to set up a lights display in the middle of the desert so that maybe three dozen people can see them? In practice I assume only people seated in the window seats on the left side had a clear view.

Then they had a pre-determined winner (based on the camera being on their face before they won) who would receive a $2,500 Las Vegas shopping spree, tickets to two shows, two nights at the Venetian, and a roundtrip flight from WestJet. Everyone else apparently got something as well, though they don’t say what it is.

While I’m a big fan of WestJet marketing in general, I think this one is just lost on me. What makes their Christmas Miracle videos so great is the social cause behind them, the delight across so many passengers, etc. The response reflects the effort they put in. This one, on the other hand…

What do you make of WestJet’s Las Vegas surprise?

(Tip of the hat to [email protected])

  1. The winner probably had to be someone who was booked on a Westjet vacation package, in order for them to successfully arrange the upgrade with all the vendors, etc.

    I agree with you lucky – the whole thing seems a bit too contrived.

  2. Contrived it may be – but I just booked a flight to London on WestJet rather than on Air Canada because their international “profile” is becoming more known thanks to promotional videos like these.

  3. This airline purports to be a Western Canadian airline – “West Jet”.

    Note carefully that the departure terminals are YYZ (Toronto) which is as far away from their roots as possible.

    As a potential customer check carefully their airfares from YYZ as opposed to fares from YYC. It is cheaper to fly YYZ to Mexico (connecting in YYC) than to fly from YYC.

    So they should properly change their name to “East Jet” as this is their focus. Screw the west.


    Plus with Westjet you stand a good chance of getting a full refund on your return right fom London because they’re so often having massive delays due to flying old second hand 767s that are having constant maintenance issues.

    And do ask them about an upgrade to a business class reverse herringbone pod.

  5. Don’t get all the WestJet hate. I booked my parents on Vegas trip, when it was on sale for 330 CAD return, and they flew YOW – YYZ – LAS and back 3 weeks ago on WestJet. And they had a good time.

    As for the spinning wheel in the desert, I think that this was pretty cool and unlike anything I have ever seen before. Really the only regret is that it was only seen by only one flight of people, as opposed to being there for a couple of weeks, and being seen by more people.

    Raffling out something small yet cool, like a model WestJet plane on each Vegas flight using such a wheel would have been pretty neat.

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