Air New Zealand wishes the nation ‘Mirry Christmus’

Air New Zealand is poking a bit of fun at the struggles people sometimes have in understanding the New Zealand accent. 

It’s 2017 Christmas ad features Santa Claus doing his best to interpret the requests being called in from around the world. And while he has no difficulty corresponding in Mandarin with a caller from China, the New Zealand accent stumps him. 

A Puggy bank, earplane and biscuit ball are just some of the misinterpretations that are delivered over the course of the hilarious spot.  

The campaign also has a social element, with Air New Zealand set to give away Santa’s mis-made toys during the month of December. 

Air New Zealand chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod says the airline wanted to celebrate the festive season in a uniquely New Zealand way.

“While it’s no secret the Kiwi accent has been misunderstood at times, it’s also a signature part of our service,” Tod says. “In fact, for many Kiwis, being welcomed onboard an Air New Zealand flight by crew after being offshore for some time makes them feel instantly back at home. We wanted to celebrate the festive season and the Kiwi accent in a humorous and uniquely Air New Zealand way.”

According to studies in linguistics, the unique pronunciation of the New Zealand accent didn’t develop overnight.   

“New Zealand English has had 150 years to go native,” says Victoria University linguistics professor Miriam Meyerhoff.

“In that time, the short vowels have wandered and that’s what makes it sound so distinctive – as the flight attendant in the video explains.  It’s great to see Kiwis owning this distinctiveness and embracing it for comic effect.”

This spot continues Air New Zealand’s annual tradition of investing in big Christmas ads. 

Julian Dennison and Ronan Keating rehashed the icnoic Winter Wonderland Christmas song last year. 

Further back, in 2014 and 2015, the airline pulled at the heartstrings with ads focused on the Kiwi kids.

The latest Christmas ad, like those from previous years, was developed by Aussie agency Host Sydney. 

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