Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why Bah Humbuggery Has No Home This Christmas

I was quietly whiling away my time in the big chair at the dentist’s office, watching CBC with some degree of general disinterest until a story popped up about the recent WestJet Christmas video. This video, the latest in a long string of such videos for WestJet, portrayed Westjet employees around the world performing small acts of kindness in celebration of Christmas. But the commentator and expert the CBC invited in to chat about the video wasn’t there to talk about the charming nature of the video or how it embodied the essence of Christmas. No, they were there to discuss how WestJet was marketing to all of us, pulling on our heart strings with their poignant video and suckering us into what is fundamentally an advertising campaign.

Well, duh. It would seem the only person who thinks anyone might be fooled by what WestJet is up to might be this supposed expert, as anyone over the age of 8 would recognize marketing when they see it. Far from being the unintelligent masses, people are more cognizant of marketing than ever before, and nobody would claim that what WestJet is doing is solely for the benefit of those receiving their acts of kindness. But the truth is, we aren’t being suckered into anything, and in this instance we are quite okay with this kind of heart-string tugging marketing because it has both practical purpose and poignancy.
As someone who now works as a professional communicator and has learned a great deal about marketing I have come to understand that part of building a brand is evoking a feeling in the people who interact with your brand. WestJet, through these videos, has done a bang-up job of connecting their brand with the concepts of kindness and generosity. Only a Grinch with the smallest of hearts would quibble with the feel-good nature of the actions of WestJet, and only a true cynic would be unable to find something redeeming about them.

There are other videos out there, too. And yes, they are all also marketing and designed to evoke feelings in us while developing brand recognition and loyalty. And so what, exactly? What kind of Scrooge sits around and watches these while picking them apart (apparently the kind of Scrooges who appear on television to comment on these videos)?
It’s (almost) enough to shrink one’s heart to those Grinch-like proportions. Instead, however, I choose to watch these videos, some that make me laugh and some that make me cry, putting aside that cynical side of my brain in favour of the one that says that even if I am being marketed to, it’s okay because there is true good will and kindness behind the marketing campaign. Even marketers are real people, and I can guarantee that creating these campaigns with a difference touch their hearts, too. We can be both pragmatic and poignant, both marketed to in our brain and touched in our heart – it does not need to be either/or.

These are some of my favourite videos from this year. To the Bah Humbug Scrooges out there who view them with cynicism all I can say is I am so sorry you are so lacking in Christmas spirit that all you can see is marketing when others see kindness and joy. Christmas is the one time of year we can put aside the cynicism and embrace the poignancy – marketing campaigns and all.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. When I look at marketing, I take the view of how true is it and base, and my reaction is based on the answer. Truth be told, I enjoy watching West Jet Christmas commercials for the magic.

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas to your and JB. :)