Usually, my first blog of the year is dedicated to reviewing the holiday marketing efforts and commenting on those who missed the target again.  Again, this year I could focus on the news of closings at stores like Sears, Macy’s, and the latest disappearance of The Limited which for years failed to communicate a reason to shop any of their many branded stores.  Instead, let’s take a look again at what one great company did at the holidays to build its relationship with its customers and communities by going above and beyond promotion and doing something great…and building it’s brand in the process.

Once again, WestJet, the Calgary-based economy airline, took a look around and found a reason to do something really extraordinary at the holidays.  This time it was to bring the spirit of the holidays and send a message that it’s more than  just good business to do the right thing for the people in your markets.  This year, WestJet decided to do something big for the people of Fort McMurray, Alberta, which was devastated by wild fires last spring.  In case you might not remember the tragedy, here’s a summary from Wikepedia on what happened:

“On May 1, 2016, a wildfire began southwest of Fort McMurrayAlberta, Canada. On May 3, it swept through the community, destroying

Record fires destroys Ft. McMurray

approximately 2,400 homes and buildings and forcing the largest wildfire evacuation in Albertan history.[7][11] It continued to spread across northern Alberta and into Saskatchewan,[12] consuming forested areas and impacting Athabasca oil sands operations.[13][14] The fire spread across approximately 590,000 hectares (1,500,000 acres) before it was declared to be under control on July 5, 2016.[4] It is the costliest disaster in Canadian history.”


WestJet greets citizens

Needless to say,the impact of this disaster on the people of Fort McMurray was indescribable and the holidays would only serve to remind them of their losses– both physical and emotional.  WestJet and its employees decided to make this Christmas special in the town and created an event that its citizens would remember.  The stories that they recorded from some of the townspeople are moving, the personal contribution and spirit of the employees is exemplary, the gift of a free flight for each citizen was above and beyond.  Then the marketing of the event once again proves that a big company can act as a close friend or family in an authentic way.  Take a few minutes to view the story at this link and I think you’ll see what I mean.  Be sure to scroll to the interviews which are best ROI a company can achieve on something like this:

Click on :

Employees share gifts

Santa visits Ft. McMurray for WestJet

This isn’t the first time that WestJet has won over the hearts of its cusomters at the holidays and I doubt that it will be the last.  This is a company that gets it.  It’s growth continues by running a good airline but its brand is stronger by being a good citizen.  The companies that have downsized or closed failed to realize that branding is a culture that must be sustained and nurtured all year with every transaction and through every communication.  With that kind of commitment, we can all look forward to a great 2017.