Why Air Transat asks Canadians: “Why travel?”

“Why travel? That’s an interesting question. When booking plane tickets, the brain usually ventures out to daydream about fun places to explore while it’s gone, cool restaurants to try, or in some cases panic that trying to browse the reservation site before the end of the ticket purchase period. , the credit card remained in the other room. Anyway, with travel, it’s usually all the other “W” questions that are asked before the “why”. Where are you going to travel? Who will you be traveling with? What will you be doing on your trip? When will you travel? The secret is, however, that all of these questions contribute to the answer “why?” “. And best of all, the sum of these elements is surprisingly simple – and lends itself to the name of the new platform: “Travel Moves Us”… and in more ways than one.

Both of these lessons are something Montreal-based travel brand Air Transat wants potential travelers to understand. And, with the pandemic over and travel back to normal, it seemed like the perfect time to introduce those ideas through new brand positioning. Enter Sid Lee. Working together, Air Transat has adopted a new growth strategy, focused on enhancing its reputation as a globally recognized, friendly, open and expert brand.

This new chapter has resulted in a multi-channel marketing campaign that explores the impact of travel on people’s lives – and saw the launch of a TV spot, ‘Why travel? “. Realized by Caraz (a two-time winner of the Gold Young Director Awards), this ode to travel follows three protagonists, each of whom embarks on a transformative journey through new places, new experiences and new perspectives. Set to ‘Better every day‘, a song by Montreal group NOBRO, this vibrant and energetic campaign symbolizes the modernity to which Air Transat is committed and the brand’s desire to help its customers see the world around them, regardless of the reason.

LBB’s Josh Neufeldt sat down with Sid Lee’s Creative Director, Brian Gill, and Air Transat’s Senior Director, Brand and Customer Experience, Maria Pagano, to find out how this campaign came about.

LBB> ‘Why travel?’ launches Air Transat’s brand new brand position: “Travel Moves Us”. What was the brief of this campaign? And what immediate ideas came to your mind?

Brian> The brief revolved around the opening. Sid Lee and Air Transat have worked hard to come up with something relevant and cutting edge. In short, what we were told: “We are more open to each trip. It is a truth around which we could rally. It is the result of the journey on people. But it is also a guiding principle of Air Transat. We want to demonstrate how the travel experience not only shapes who we are, but expands our understanding of each other.”

LBB> Why is now a good time for a new brand positioning, and what do you hope to achieve?

Maria> The timing of this new brand positioning is linked to Air Transat’s resurgence following covid-19 and the launch of a new long-term strategic plan which, for the first time in our history, is focused on growing our airline business.

While we’ve always been known primarily for our southern packages and transatlantic flights, we now believe we need to broaden our horizons to include all types of travel – with a focus on leisure. This evolution requires a strategic repositioning of the brand with two main objectives: to distinguish itself from the competition, and to engage with changing demographics. This is where the new brand campaign comes in, as it allows us to create opportunities to spread the word and engage our loyal customers, as well as those who are unfamiliar with Air Transat. This is especially important as we add more airline partners and destinations to our network.

After 35 years as vacation experts, we broaden our own perspective to provide our customers with the best experience and a window to the world, whatever type of trip they are looking for. Thus, we want people to know that Air Transat is beginning a new chapter in its history. We share the passion for travel with our customers and believe that travel has a transformative power to make us more open to ourselves, to others and to the world. We believe that this is a positioning entirely owned by Air Transat. This campaign launches a reaffirmed goal to encourage and play an active role in furthering the openness of our customers.

LBB> What lessons has Air Transat learned from its 35 years of experience, and how have they influenced this brand evolution?

Maria> We advocate discovery and the pure pleasure of travel with benevolent know-how. We are well known to our customers for our friendly and welcoming service on board our aircraft, and our staff epitomizes the openness of Montreal (the city in which we were born and raised). Today, for the first time, we reaffirm our ownership of this position. Internally, we say we’re finally coming out of our teens and becoming ourselves – an airline dedicated to supporting you, whatever your reason for travelling, while providing the best experience.

This decision has already started to bear fruit. We are becoming a global airline that is among the best in the world in its category, as evidenced by our recent Skytrax award for “Best Leisure Airline in North America”. We are also now present on three continents and are constantly expanding our network with the addition of codeshare agreements and our “connectair” virtual interline service. We don’t discount the tour operator – it will always be an integral part of our business – but we put more emphasis on the incredible potential of the airline. Additionally, where our previous brand platform was based on the need to brighten the everyday lives of our customers, we have decided to expand our brand platform to include all leisure travel. This is the most significant change.

LBB> Where does the ‘Why travel?’ idea and copy come?

Brian> We loved the simplicity of asking a question to invite people into conversation. There are probably as many reasons to travel as travelers. The idea was not to give people the answer, but to allow people to see themselves in the situations and form their own opinion on the importance of the journey.

LBB> Building on this, the spot offers a number of ‘why’ questions that play on ‘Why travel?’ ” overall. What was the drafting process for this?

Brian> At Sid Lee, we believe in constant collaboration. It’s about writing something and getting feedback from colleagues. This leads to many variations of an idea, where the cream rises to the top. It was a place we never stopped writing about. We started with a basic structure, of course, but we knew we had to be open to finding new “whys” as we went along. The goal was to keep things as authentic as possible. To achieve this, we needed to allow our script to evolve with the cast, locations, and what we ended up shooting. We elaborated the questions until the final cut.

LBB> Spots are a pleasure to watch, with diverse stories and varied locations! What went into writing and telling these stories, and where did you shoot?

Brian> Because there are so many reasons people travel, and so many travelers, we knew we wanted a diverse group of people. Three scenarios allowed us to address a number of reasons why people travel and represent the wide range of travellers.

In terms of location, the film and photos were shot in Portugal, which gave us diversity. Going there, we were able to get town, village, and coastal locations, all within a short distance of each other. However, we were not necessarily looking to highlight a particular destination. If you recognize it’s Portugal, that’s great, but what was more important was that we featured the experiences of travellers.

LBB> The acting of the protagonists is very sincere. What was the casting like and how did you find the perfect people for the job?

Brian> I can’t talk about the acting without talking about the director, Caraz. She did a fabulous job of finding people she felt could give an honest performance. Before launching the casting, we all agreed that we wanted a cast representative of the real world. We certainly weren’t looking for perfect model types. Once you take that off the table, it opens up your cast to different characters – something that’s not only more honest, but also refreshing.

Caraz just had the idea. And, the chemistry between her and the team was good. Together, everyone has become stronger. Besides having a knack for creating beautiful images, we thought Caraz would be able to conjure up the intangibles and make one plus one equal three. She also had the right amount of empathy for the stories we wanted to tell. It allowed him to create something with the honest emotion we were looking for.

LBB> Another memorable element of the spot is the use of NOBRO’s bilingual soundtrack – ‘Better Each Day’. Who did you work with to find this song, and what made it the right choice?

Brian> We knew we wanted an original track to help land the emotion. We wrote a music brief that cast a wide net and asked Cult Nation to create playlists for us. I think we had four or five rounds. Buried among the myriad songs was NOBRO’s “Better Each Day.” It had a lot of advantages, being a local Montreal band. Lyrically it made sense and the energy was cool. But it wasn’t until Caraz put it on a demo movie that it started to resonate with everyone. In the end, we couldn’t have been happier to work with a local punk band for this.

LBB> What challenges did you encounter during this project? And how did you overcome them?

Maria> Any project of this magnitude is not an easy task, so we had to adjust our course several times during this process. Many stakeholders are involved, there has been a lot of research and data analysis, and it has all been juggled while keeping the focus on our customers. Luckily, our internal stakeholders were on board from the start, and our team at Sid Lee was amazing in supporting us through the process. We truly believe we knocked this campaign out of the park, and now we’re getting the proper praise for it.

LBB> So… why travel?

brian> Experiences make us who we are. Travel offers some of the most awesome experiences we can have. He opens our eyes and our hearts to people we would not have known or understood without him.

Married> Because, as they say, “travel moves us”. We believe that travel has transformative powers and, as such, encourages openness to the world. After 35 years as vacation experts, we broaden our own perspective to provide our customers with the best experience and a window to the world, whatever type of trip they are looking for.

About Nereida Nystrom

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