It pays to be charitable, and it pays even more to film it.

Marketers have found a new way to capitalize on the spirit of the holiday season, using feel-good viral videos to make big bucks for the corporations they represent. WestJet and TD Bank are among the companies that have used surprise giveaway videos to boost their public image, and enjoyed a boost in profits as a result, too.

“Yes, they’re corporations and they do have to make money, but there’s no reason they can’t put something back into the world, too,” marketing expert Janet Kestin told CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday.

Kestin says corporate acts of charity work best when they evoke positive emotions, as the recent TD Bank and WestJet campaigns did when they gave away surprise, personalized gifts that fulfilled individuals’ wishes, and were received with genuine joy.

That heartfelt response is what makes the videos such a success, Kestin says. She adds that surprise charity videos must be sincere, unique and authentic to the company for them to really capture the audience. If the approach is too generic or unassociated with the brand, it will fall flat.

“It’s really important that the relationship between the good deed-doing and the brand are matched,” she said.

WestJet released the second in its ‘Christmas Miracle’ video series this week, which shows the company jetting to the Dominican Republic to surprise villagers with everything on their Christmas lists.

It’s a variation on their ‘Christmas Miracle’ video released last year , when WestJet travellers were surprised with personalized gifts at the baggage claim.

Kestin says WestJet cashed in big after that first giveaway video, with a 77 per cent boost in bookings after it went viral.

Both WestJet videos involved people telling a video Santa Claus what they wanted for Christmas, then engaging in a shopping spree and delivering the goods to the recipients’ astonishment and shock.

TD Bank did something similar earlier this year with its ‘Automated Thanking Machine’ viral video. The video shows people encountering a ‘talking’ ATM that rewards them with personalized gifts for being loyal TD customers. Those gifts included trips to visit relatives, money to pay off debts and even a visit from Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista.

Kestin says these viral charity campaigns make companies look good to the public, but they also have a positive impact inside the organization, too.

“The things that you don’t see are employee happiness,” she said. “People love to work in companies that do something good and let them be a part of it.”