The Motley Fool

The WestJet Channel Takes Off on Rogers Cable

By Cameron Conway

Earlier this month, WestJet Airlines (TSX:WJA) launched its own “ambient” television channel on Rogers (TSX: RCI.B, NYSE:RCI). WestJet’s channel 206 is available to customers in Ontario, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and is designed to entice potential customers with pictures of warm sunny beaches, spotlighting locations such as Grand Cayman, Bermuda, and St. Martin-St. Maarten, just as the cold grip of winter grabs ahold of the Great White North.

The evolution of the fireplace channel
WestJet seems to be following in the footsteps of a Swiss Chalet marketing campaign from 2011-2012, which showed roasting chickens on a 24/7 loop to lure people into its stores. In the same fashion, WestJet is hoping that images of warmer landscapes could lure people out of the cold and onto the company’s aircrafts.

If 24 hours of Caribbean destinations isn’t your thing, the channel is also slated to show “behind the scenes” footage of WestJets “ramp” activities such as loading and unloading planes, pushing planes to taxing positions, and the general activities of its ground crews — activities that certain viewers may find interesting. From my own personal experience, the novelty of staring at the underside of a WestJet 737 didn’t last very long … although viewers won’t have to enjoy the same view at 6 a.m. in -40C like I did.

24-hour commercial
WestJet is no doubt hoping that this 13-week experiment turns into actual sales, or at the very least greater interest in the WestJet brand. It’s been successful thus far — boasting 34 consecutive profitable quarters and in its most recent quarter, it reported a year-on-year increase of nearly 300,000 passengers. But it’s eager for more growth — it has a stated mission of becoming “one of the five most successful airlines in the world.”

As I’ve written about here at repeatedly (see here and here), companies are having to try harder — and be more creative — to market their services and attract the attention of potential customers. Simple 30-second television commercials or display ads in national newspapers are no longer a sure thing.

If WestJet’s 13-week gamble is successful, it could mark another shift in the marketing world. If it fails — well, at least its downside is protected, as it’ll only be charged for the amount of viewers the channel gets.

WestJet shareholders should welcome this as a novel idea worth an experiment. (Selling an entire channel for advertising is also a novel experiment for Rogers!) I’ll be watching with curiosity to see if this works.

And hey, even if we can’t afford to actually fly to a Caribbean beach on a WestJet plane, at least we’re now able to watch it on TV.

Just Released! 5 Stocks Under $49 (FREE REPORT)

Motley Fool Canada's market-beating team has just released a brand-new FREE report revealing 5 "dirt cheap" stocks that you can buy today for under $49 a share.
Our team thinks these 5 stocks are critically undervalued, but more importantly, could potentially make Canadian investors who act quickly a fortune.
Don't miss out! Simply click the link below to grab your free copy and discover all 5 of these stocks now.

Claim your FREE 5-stock report now!

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Disclosure: Cameron Conway does not own any shares in the companies mentioned.

Two New Stock Picks Every Month!

Not to alarm you, but you’re about to miss an important event.

Iain Butler and the Stock Advisor Canada team only publish their new “buy alerts” twice a month, and only to an exclusively small group.

This is your chance to get in early on what could prove to be very special investment advice.

Enter your email address below to get started now, and join the other thousands of Canadians who have already signed up for their chance to get the market-beating advice from Stock Advisor Canada.