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WestJet and Coke get personal with travelers

Airline partners with Coca-Cola to bring its popular

WestJet is in the sharing spirit. The airline has partnered with Coca-Cola, bringing the cola maker’s “Share A Coke” campaign to the skies.

On a Sept. 18 flight from Calgary to Halifax, using a special vending machine set up in the airport lounge, travelers were given the opportunity to create customized cans of Coke to share with whoever they were meeting at the other end of their flight.

READ: Coke has a bottle with your name on it

The personalized vending machine is an activation Coca-Cola brought to music festivals and other venues across Canada throughout the summer, but WestJet upped the ante, offering prizes on some of the cans, such as free flights and upgrades to ‘plus’ seats.

Once they boarded the plane, they found a personalized can with their own name on it waiting for them at their seat. Then, out their window, they saw WestJet staffers waving to them from the tarmac. The wave-off has long been a WestJet traditional, but this time they gave it a new spin, with a staffer holding a sign in the shape of a Coke can with the name of each guest, lined up near their window.

According to Christina Clifford, sponsorship and experiential coordinator at WestJet, the brand partnership was bred out of WestJet’s “Buy Onboard” program. Coca-Cola products are available on WestJet flights. As Clifford put it, the airline “shares a Coke with 50,000 fliers a day.”

Clifford said the companies chose a flight headed to Halifax because it was a market the “Share A Coke” campaign hadn’t hit yet and they learned through social listening that many consumers in Halifax wanted it to come there.

As part of the partnership, WestJet also created a faux in-flight safety video that showed guests how to properly drink a Coke on board. In the video, a flight attendant gives the familiar safety speech, subbing in Coca-Cola for the safety manual.

“Please take a moment now to locate your Coke and familiarize yourself with it’s magnificence. Also, please make sure it’s stored in an upright, standing position,” she says.

The video goes on to show how to open the can and advises fliers not to shake it, given the pressure of the cabin.

“Share A Coke” is a global brand campaign that was first launched in 2011 in Australia. Since then, it has been adapted in over 50 countries, including Canada, where the campaign launched in June with cans featuring 290 of the most popular names in Canada.

This article first appeared in Marketing Magazine

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