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Love, Breakfast, and the Psychology of Seasonal Marketing

February 12th, 2024 Jaimie Love 3 min to read

Marketing can tap into emotions to create memorable and impactful campaigns. One such instance took place in my life when I was just 14 years old.

It was Valentine's Day 1999, and WestJet had rolled out a unique and heartwarming promotion:

Individuals with the last names "Love" or "Valentine" could fly for free anywhere the airline operated.

This was pre-social media (dating myself a bit here), so this campaign rolled out across the more traditional channels. Little did I know, my dad had seen WestJet’s ad in The Calgary Herald just days before the 14th.

On a whim, he called in (yes, called!), and after confirming our last name of ‘Love’, unbeknownst to my brother and I, he booked our family flights to one of the few places WestJet flew at the time and the only place still available in the promotion…the booming metropolis of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The morning of, we woke up, and instead of driving us to school, our parents kept driving all the way to the airport. We found out what was going on once we got through security. How exciting!

The WestJet campaign cleverly used the association of last names with ‘Love’ and ‘Valentine's Day’ to evoke positive emotions and create a unique connection with their audience.

Emotion plays a pivotal role in our decision-making processes, and marketers understand this extremely well. The psychology of emotions can be a powerful tool when crafting advertising campaigns, as it taps into the very essence of what makes us human. Advertisers leveraged psychology as far back as the early 1950s to influence consumer behaviours.

This seemingly simple marketing ploy led my family and me on a surprise journey to Saskatoon for a simple Valentine's Day breakfast, but it ended up being so much more than that. It was a shared experience that brought us closer as a family. It’s something I think of fondly every February 14th and it’s been a fun story I’ve shared countless times over the years.

Seasonal marketing campaigns, when executed thoughtfully, have the potential to create lasting memories. WestJet's initiative not only allowed us to enjoy a unique Valentine's Day but also left a lasting impression of the airline as a brand that values customer experiences beyond the price of a ticket.

Thinking about my Valentine's Day adventure with WestJet now, as a marketer, I can’t help but be impressed. For a fairly low investment (I wonder how many flights they ended up giving away?!), it generated a lifetime of goodwill, at least for my family.

They brilliantly tapped into the psychology of emotions and the diverse forms of love with a well-crafted ‘outside-the-box’ seasonal marketing campaign.

As I reflect on that breakfast in Saskatoon, it reminds me that sometimes the most profound moments arise when we least expect them, thanks to the perfect blend of emotion, spontaneity, and a dash of marketing magic.