Elves play while Santa’s away in travel brand TUI’s holiday ad

While ‘The Boss’ delivers presents on Christmas Eve, his helpers enjoy a much-needed getaway in the U.K. spot from Leo Burnett

Published On
Nov 29, 2023
Christmas elf girl relaxing on a sun lounger while on her mobile phone.

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Everyone knows that on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus and his reindeer are busy delivering presents to children around the world. But after putting in a year of hard work making toys, what are jolly ol’ Saint Nick’s legions of elves doing while he is away from the North Pole? Quite a lot, as it turns out.

In its first-ever Christmas campaign, European tourism giant TUI imagines that after waving a tearful goodbye to Santa, the elves’ tune quickly changes, promptly blasting “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin and ditching their snowy Arctic workshop for a sunny beach getaway—traveling there not by sleigh, but by TUI Airways.

With an upbeat montage, the elves are shown indulging, stop motion-style, in all the fun a vacation has to offer: snorkeling, playing volleyball, suntanning by the pool and more. And when “The Boss” rings them up in the midst of building a sand castle, the only thing to do is decline the call.


Cut into 30- and 60-second versions, the campaign was developed for the British market by Leo Burnett, with Rogue producing and EssenceMediacom handling media planning.

“This is the first-ever Christmas ad for TUI and we wanted to make sure 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,” said Chaka Sobhani, chief creative officer at Leo Burnett UK and Global.

The commercial’s vibe is a notable departure from the stereotypical holiday ads aired in Britain and continental Europe each winter, which often take a more sentimental approach and center heartwarming stories of togetherness and charity.

“Shaking up the yearly offering of Christmas clichés, our first Christmas campaign celebrates the feeling of downing tools and soaking up some much needed ‘me-time,’” said Sara Ali, director of brand and content at TUI UK & Ireland. “We are always looking for different ways to engage with our audience as part of our ‘Live Happy’ promise, so we’re very excited to spread some festive cheer this year.”

In addition to a TV run, the campaign’s elves—hand-crafted by Arch Model Studio model maker Andy Gent, whose work has also appeared in a number of Wes Anderson films—will be active on TUI’s social media channels.

Over the course of the next month, they will be posting “holiday elfies” (a play on “selfies”) from their exotic trip and promoting an “Elfie AR Filter” on Facebook and Instagram, underscored by a social media-based promotion to give away 12 TUI vacation packages.


Nov 29, 2023
Client :
Agency :
Leo Burnett-London
Chief Creative Officer :
Chaka Sobhani
Executive Creative Director :
Mark Elwood
Creative Director :
Rob Tenconi
Creative Director :
Mark Franklin
Copywriter :
Matt Wood
Art Director :
Tom Loveless
Planner :
Aileen Baker
Planner :
Beth Mackenzie
Business Lead :
Lauren Martin
Account Team :
Robert Ellen
Account Team :
Daisy Jackson
Account Team :
Libby Matthews
Account Team :
Selen Demirel
Account Team :
Ruben Forde
Chief Production Officer :
Emily Marr
Agency Producer :
Dominique Strouthos
Media Buying Agency :
Media Planner :
Mehr Chughtai
Production Company :
Director :
Alex Boutell
Editor :
Leo King
Producer :
Tom Farley
Post-Production Company :
Black Kite Studios
Audio Post-Production Company :
Wave Studios
Model Maker :
Arch Model Studio
Photographer :
Rob Tenconi
Global Brand and Content Director :
Toby Horry
Director of Brand and Content :
Sara Ali
Head of Global Advertising and Media :
Felicity Walker
Global Head of Creative and Brand ID :
Christian Torres
Senior Global Advertising & Media Manager :
Jennifer Litherland
Global Advertising Manager :
Jessica Briggs

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