WestJet has done it again.
The Canadian airline has released its second Christmas surprise video set, this time, in a small seaside village in the Dominican Republic.
WestJet’s 2013 'Christmas Miracle', in which travellers at two Canadian airports were invited to tell Santa Claus what they wanted for Christmas, and arrived at their destinations to find the presents waiting, was a marketing blockbuster that garnered more than 36 million views on YouTube.
This year, WestJet attempted to recreate the same formula for success, but with a whole new twist.
“This year we’re bringing a snowy Canadian Christmas to a community in the Dominican Republic,” WestJet announced on its YouTube channel.
In the video, residents of the small seaside community of Nuevo Renacer were greeted to a blue sleigh on a “street by the shore.”
Villagers were given the opportunity to speak to Santa through a camera and microphone built into the sleigh.
One girl asked for a doll house, another wanted a skateboard, and a boy excitedly asked for a car.
Requests from adults, meanwhile, reflected needs that seemed essential for their livelihood.
One man asked for a horse, a woman asked for a washing machine, and an expectant mother asked Santa for a crib.
“I’m a motorbike taxi driver, but the engine is broken,” one man told Santa. “And to support my children, I wish I would be granted a new engine.”
As the requests “continued into the night”, WestJet staffers are shown going on a shopping spree for the requested items.
The next day, the villagers were invited to a party on the beach where they received their gifts with a mixture of laughter and tears.
Jolly St. Nick himself personally delivered one grateful man his horse.
The citizens of Nuevo Renacer were then treated to a tree-lighting ceremony, fireworks, and the unveiling of a new children’s playground.
Dominican Republic poverty
More than 750,000 Canadian tourists visit the Dominican Republic every year, contributing millions of dollars to the local economy -- but 50 per cent of the population lives on approximately US $4/day according to the World Bank.
“This was our chance to give the people of Nuevo Renacer a once-in-a-lifetime experience – a Canadian Christmas," WestJet said in a press release.
Social media reaction
By Monday morning, comments on the “Spirit of Giving” YouTube video were overwhelmingly positive.
“I didn’t think you could out do last year but you DID,” declared Rachel.
“WestJest this is truly a wonderful thing to do for families who live in what Canadians consider paradise yet their lives are from what one would consider living in paradise,” wrote Joan.
“WestJet, well done! You make Canadians proud,” said Andrea.
The video was a collaboration between WestJet, local volunteers, and Live Different – a Canadian charity that works with volunteers on development projects abroad.
WestJet offers three destinations to the Dominican Republic.