TUI’s first-ever Christmas ad masterfully combines the twin forces of snow and sun

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How can you segue from the cosy cold of Christmas to the scorching sun of a summer holiday? Leo Burnett’s latest ad for holiday brand TUI leads the way.

When trying to convey a message in a matter of seconds, you want to keep things as simple as possible. But sometimes, things just aren’t that simple.

Take, for example, the fact that many people tend to book their holidays around Christmas time. So holiday companies are in a bit of a bind.

Either they go for the traditional Yuletide ad (all log fires and roast turkey), which seems a world away from what they want audiences to think about (sunshine and sangria). Or they just focus on the sunshine. But in that case, the ad will feel out of step with the rest of the seasonal commercials, as listed in our roundup of the best Christmas ads of 2023.

So we were intrigued to see the first-ever Christmas ad by holiday company TUI. In a first for the travel brand, it celebrates an untold story of what happens when the elves finish their Christmas duties. In this way, the ad cleverly manages to have its cake and eat it.

The story

In the animated ad, a group of elves are seen standing by a window, emotionally waving goodbye to Santa on his sleigh after months of preparing for the big day. Then suddenly, the atmosphere changes dramatically. The play button is hit by a fellow elf in a Hawaiian shirt, and the famous Ricky Martin soundtrack, Livin’ La Vida Loca, plays out.

The elves’ next chapter begins when they board a TUI flight and are whizzed off on a two-week, sun-soaked fun holiday with the whole gang – even ignoring Santa’s call.

Broadening TUI’s appeal, the spot engages its target audience in a new and innovative way while showcasing the brand’s promise: Live Happy.

How it was made

The ten bespoke puppet elves were hand-made by award-winning London model-maker Andy Gent of Arch Model Studio. With over 25 years of experience in puppet making, set building and character creation, Andy has an extensive credit list, including Isle of Dogs, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Grand Hotel Budapest and Corpse Bride.

The advert was created in partnership with creative agency Leo Burnett, who also developed the strategy, creative idea and execution. It was directed by Alex Boutell from Rogue Films, while EssenceMediacom delivered media planning and buying.

In addition to the festive ad, the elves have been taking over TUI’s social channels during the festive period as they share ‘holiday elfies’ from their trip. There’s also been a competition on TUI’s social channels to give away 12 TUI holidays, along with an Elfie AR Filter available to use across Instagram and Facebook.

“This is the first-ever Christmas ad for TUI,” says Chaka Sobhani, chief creative officer at Leo Burnett UK and Global. “And we wanted to ensure the joy and happiness we all feel on our holidays was reflected in our elves’ adventure as they head for the sun with TUI, relax by the pool, enjoy a massage and even find love. As we enter the cold winter months, we hope this campaign gives us something to look forward to and plan for the summer.”

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