When Santa’s Naughty List Gets Leaked, One Kid Hatches a Plan to Turn Everyone Nice

Air New Zealand fuels a global summit of good behavior

He intercepted Santa's list, but can he change the rankings before it's too late? Air New Zealand
Headshot of Shannon Miller

The holidays wouldn’t be the holidays without fond memories of Christmas cookies, spools of wrapping paper and the vague, overhanging threat of ending up on Santa’s naughty list.

Just the idea of receiving little more than coal and judgment on the most magical day of the year was enough to get most of us to err on the side of better discernment for at least a few months. But what would we have done if we learned that our best efforts weren’t enough, that we had landed on the Jolly Man’s bad side after all?

That’s the story of one determined little boy in Air New Zealand’s 2018 Christmas campaign, Nicest Christmas Ever. When a busy Saint Nick accidentally emails the definitive Naughty List to “Elvis Anderson” instead of “Elves” (that autofill function in can be tricky, so we get it), Elvis takes matters into his own hands and sets about saving the holiday for himself and his fellow listmates.

In a stroke of pure genius, he arranges a UN-style summit for all the ill-fated naughty kids of the world. But it’s going to take more than a can-do spirit to find success with this international gathering of problematic children

That’s when Air New Zealand steps in. With the help of a few last-minute travel arrangements and some helpful translation, the most important summit of the holiday goes off without a hitch. Some super important negotiations amongst the delegation—like Japan’s offer of a 30 percent reduction in hair-pulling and New Zealand’s (dubious) promise to be nicer to Australia—manage to save their holiday.

They even seem to redeem a MAGA-hatted young American whose experience echoes that of Donald Trump when he was laughed at by the United Nations in September.

Air New Zealand has established a reputation of injecting their standard safety videos and marketing with a sense of fun and Kiwi pride. For their previous Christmastime campaign, the airline staff stopped by Santa’s workshop to help him sort out some of the muddier elements of the Kiwi accent so he could fulfill his lengthy list of children’s holiday wishes. It all reflects a marketing strategy that shows their ability to not take themselves too seriously while highlighting just what makes New Zealand such a merry place to visit.

“Showcasing our people is a hallmark of Air New Zealand’s brand campaigns, and it was fantastic to be able to share the limelight with more of the Air New Zealand family this time,” says Air New Zealand’s general manager of global brand and content, Jodi Williams.

Let’s hope that these kids can make good on some of their loftier promises. Otherwise they’re going to be swimming in coal come next Christmas.

Shannon Miller is a writer, podcast creator and contributor to Adweek.