fall / 2012

The magazine of branded content
Air Apparent
Feature
09/01/12
For its marquee client’s 75th anniversary, Spafax employed a trio of editorial “buckets” to tell a brand—and a country’s—story.
Storytelling
Sep 1, 2012

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Spafax performed the equivalent of an archaeological dig to present Air Canada’s nation-defining story.

The Takeoff

Air Canada has enjoyed a fruitful 30-year relationship with Spafax. So when the airline’s 75th birthday approached, the multi-national content producer’s Montreal branch (there are nine worldwide) developed a multi-winged program for a jumbo celebration.

“The client wanted to celebrate their rich history, and that’s a broad request, so we had to narrow it down,” says Spafax Content Director Arjun Basu. “So there were a lot of filters here. But nothing works without the content, and, luckily, we had that and it was rich.”

How rich? Normally, Spafax dedicates a core group of 20 employees to the Air Canada account on a running basis—a 360 content strategy that includes the four pillars of print, digital, audio and video production, ads on ticket jackets, and revenue share on advertising sold into their media. For the anniversary project, they were granted full access to Air Canada’s archives, allowing their researchers to wade knee deep in a basement pulling old musty uniforms, faded tickets and dog-eared photos.

"How the brand sees itself and the 'true' brand story, you hope are one and the same. And if they aren't as brand guidelines, we try and find a middle ground." ~Spafax Content Director, Arjun Basu

Passion Points

Commitment. Service. Excellence. “But there has always been a larger aspect to Air Canada’s brand,” says Arjun. “It tries to embody a nation. And when you look at this country’s aviation history, and practically every Canadian’s own history with flight, Air Canada is central.”

Editorial architecture

“We wanted to mix it up. How the brand sees itself and the ‘true’ brand story, you hope are one and the same. And if they aren’t, as brand guardians, we try and find a middle ground. There are false starts and restarts, stuff that gets tossed in the garbage. But history is a story. Content marketing is about a story well told, and we wanted to incorporate editorial elements we call ‘Big’ content: Air Canada was the first to deploy a certain technology or kind of service; ‘Celebrity’ content: Bob Hope, Babe Ruth, and a young Ron Reagan flew the airline; and ‘Personal’ content: chewing gum served to passengers, and boxed lunches, because although the anniversary is about a company, that company is nothing without its customers.”

The Landing

  • A commemorative high gloss magazine for top tier customers.
  • 75th anniversary website, with a timeline and video setbacks. An exhaustive run through the company’s history that answers questions like: How is Clarence Birdseye’s ice fishing with the Inuit connected to the comfort of Air Canada’s passengers?
  • Facebook campaign with a trivia game. Based on the website timeline and user’s own knowledge and history with Air Canada, the game produced a winner every day, with a grand prize allotting huge amounts of frequent flier points. “It's to solidify the client’s Facebook presence, because they lacked a coherent plan to get more active in social media,” says Arjun. “It was a one-off for the month of September, but it's a larger way to make their social media more robust going forward.”

enroute-cover.jpg

Spafax performed the equivalent of an archaeological dig to present Air Canada’s nation-defining story.