Image: Bookmark Content and Communications

Canada’s flag carrier revamps its award-winning magazine with a new design and digital presence that matches its ambition to become one of the leading airlines of the world. We talk to Anton Vidgen, Air Canada brand experience director and APEX vice-president, to learn what this signals for the carrier.

EnRoute, Air Canada’s award-winning in-flight magazine, has built a reputation as a reliable source of travel tips to navigate the world – particularly through its recommendations on eating, drinking, shopping and hospitality establishments. It still wants to be that trusty travel guide but, with the latest issue, it may take its readers down a slightly different route.

Today, the airline unveiled a new design for its in-flight magazine, with a sharper look to align with its mission to become a leading global carrier. “We feel that if we’re trying to be one of the world’s best airlines, we certainly want to have one of the world’s best media brands and best in-flight magazines,” said Anton Vidgen, Air Canada’s brand experience director and APEX vice-president.

The new design, by Bookmark Content and Communications (the same company that worked on the previous design), forgoes flourishes and changing title fonts for a cleaner look. Aesthetically, it puts the content at the forefront so the stories can do their telling. An emphasis on photos ensures the magazine is attractive sitting on a coffee table and has an editorial caliber that’s comparable to titles on international newsstands. But there’s more than meets the eye.

“Previously, the editorial was a bit overly celebratory, just a bit too positive. And while we always want to make sure there is a positive tone, we also want there to be a deeper emotional register,” Vidgen said. “There will be some difficult stories, even sad stories. We want stories that provoke a human response. That humanity is something we’re really pushing for.”

Image: Bookmark Content and Communications

All of this is to provide a richer reading experience, which will continue beyond the page. Along with the magazine redesign, enRoute has also introduced a new website. As it becomes more media brand than magazine, it plans on establishing a stronger digital presence, with article extensions, companion stories and digital-only extras, such as audio and video content, online. “It’s been an area we’ve underinvested in the past. We’re hoping to identify a whole new domain of readers and relevant content for the digital space,” Vidgen continued.

“We want stories that provoke a human response. That humanity is something we’re really pushing for” – Anton Vidgen, Air Canada

It’s also a strategy being used by Air Canada to reach a readership that doesn’t fly frequently with the airline. “When you look at successful media brands, they have that frequency, that regular cadence that allows [readers] to engage with the content,” he explained. By capturing “human-interest stories through the lens of travel,” Vidgen hopes enRoute will help spark conversations, perhaps even about how to make the world a better place. “Canada is having a bit of a moment right now, and globally, I think, many look to Canada as a beacon of stability, decency and sensitivity.”

As Air Canada aligns with some of the country’s values, it’s media brand, enRoute, can then engage its audience by exploring the conversation around those values, in ways that the airline wouldn’t normally do. “It’s really able to explore new territory, and in some cases, something that might even be a bit more controversial,” said Vidgen. “We’re really bullish on making sure we leverage the full extent of [the new brand].”