Westjet Airlines Film, DM, Case study Desert Roulette by Rethink

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Desert Roulette

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Industry Airlines
Media Film, Direct marketing, Case study
Market Canada
Agency Rethink
Associate Creative Director Kevin Filliter, Jordan Cohen
Creative Director Chris Staples, Ian Grais Pinco, Aaron Starkman, Dré Labre
Art Director Kevin Filliter, Joel Holtby, Lia Macleod
Copywriter Jordan Cohen, Mike Dubrick, Krista Raspor
Production Studio M
Director Bryan Reid, Kaan Akalin
Released August 2017


Clio Awards 2017
Events/Experiential Product/Service: Other Silver

Credits & Description

Market: Toronto/Montreal/Vancouver
Agency: Rethink
Entrant Company: Rethink
Production Company: Studio M
Advertiser / Brand: Westjet
Pr: Edelman
Light Show Company: Westbury National Show Systems Ltd.
Finishing House: The Vanity
Music/Sound Company: Vapor Rmw
Creative Director: Aaron Starkman
Creative Director: Dre Labre
Creative Director: Chris Staples
Creative Director: Ian Grais
Associate Creative Director: Jordan Cohen
Associate Creative Director: Kevin Filliter
Copywriter: Jordan Cohen
Copywriter: Krista Raspor
Copywriter: Mike Dubrick
Art Director: Kevin Filliter
Art Director: Lia Macleod
Art Director: Joel Holtby
Producer: Catherine Dumas
Producer: Kyle Hicks
Strategist: Darren Yada
Strategist: Leah Gregg
Account Executive: Becky Rudson
Account Executive: Marie Lunny
Head Of Production: Ron Zeeman
Executive Producer: Mike Mills
Post Production Producer: Luke Bellissimo
Editor: Jeremy Sedge
Director: Bryan Reid
Director: Kaan Akalin
Director Of Photography: Ray Dumas
Director Of Photography: Simon Shochet
Senior Producer: Heidi Burbela
Pm: Emily Yaeger
Pm: Hailey Brooks
Flame Artist: Sean Cochrane
Grading: Andrew Exworth
Executive Producer: Stephanie Pennington
Engineer: Julian Rudd
Audio House Producer: Kat Stewart
Senior Account Manager: Hailey Carnegie
WestJet is a company known for doing things in a big way, so it comes as no surprise the airline wanted to do something remarkable to mark its 21st birthday. WestJet gave us the challenge of celebrating this accomplishment, in keeping with their history of pulling significant brand acts, in a place that was completely appropriate for the occasion: Las Vegas. Vegas is a growth destination for the airline, which created the ideal opportunity to remind flyers of WestJet’s service to the city as well as celebrate the impressive company milestone.

A lot of WestJet’s success has come from knowing and understanding who their core customer is, and equally, who it’s not. Many airlines put a priority on the business traveller, but WestJet has grown through a clear focus on meeting the need of leisure travellers. These are the people for whom a friendly guest experience is a key driver in their choice of airline, rather than a focus on amenities or a corporate personality for business travellers. These were exactly the kind of people we were targeting for Desert Lights, and with that, we set out to impress a very lucky set of leisure travellers with their sights set on the bright lights of Vegas. Little did they know just how bright those lights would be.

Primarily the use of the desert space to communicate with passengers mid-flight was a stunt on a level never seen before. Also, since nothing of this scale or complexity had been attempted before for airline marketing, it created a buzz across the media to talk about the unique experience.

By the end of the few short weeks this event was in market, we achieved over 4 million impressions, coverage in 25+ press outlets, and over 1.5 million views of WestJet’s Facebook video. Most importantly was the reaction garnered from Canadians, totalling 15,000 reactions, 600+ shares and over 1000 comments celebrating the event.

Uniquely, two world records were set including ‘greatest light output in a projected image’ and ‘largest circular projection’. Visible from 12,000 feet, the wheel was 785,398 square metres in diameter and reached 4,666,000 lumens.

First we had to coordinate with WestJet’s flight operations to determine ideal timing for weather and their planned flight paths into Vegas so we could scout a location for the wheel.

For people to be able to see something from 12,000 feet in the air, it needs to be massive. To accomplish this, we partnered with Westbury Productions to bring 164 of the largest and brightest moving lights made on the planet to the desert. In total, the lights projected 4.5 million lumens, which was a world record achieved in this process.

We then had to establish direct contact with the pilots as they approached the location so we knew when to start the spinning and ultimately land on the winner seat number.

Everything had to happen in a window of less than 60 seconds.

Campaign Description
To demonstrate just how different WestJet is, and emphasize their commitment to guests, we wanted to make the flight to Vegas even more spectacular and surprising than the destination itself.

Due to the tight restrictions for what can occur on or in an aircraft, we focused on the ground instead, thankfully Las Vegas is a city in the middle of the desert. Using the space and darkness of the desert to our advantage we built a gigantic roulette wheel in the desert outside Las Vegas. The wheel was made of lights and so large that it could be seen from 12,000 feet up in the air.

As the planes approach the wheel’s location, passengers were instructed to take note of their seat numbers and look out their windows. Then they saw was a spinning roulette wheel and when it stopped it displayed a seat number, indicating the winning passenger.