Ad Nut
Oct 4, 2022

Kiwi life insurer raises the dead for a last performance

The work by Special New Zealand gives knocked-off drama series characters one last shot at acting, put to good use plugging Partners Life insurance.

Ad Nut has had many encounters with zombies. So have most of you. That's because zombies only live on screens, and in Ad Nut's case, in ads. So everyone generally lives to tell the tales. How much one enjoys these tales varies greatly though.

Ad Nut has enjoyed zombies in ads that go after your funny bone (like this one) and once wrote that "turning zombies into sympathetic characters who are concerned with having more fun—rather than more brains—is a great concept." 

Now, Ad Nut would say that the good people at Special New Zealand have stumbled (slightly unfair word choice but we're talking zombies) on an even greater concept for those who are brought back from the dead: Give them a final performance in an ad.

Even better, make that acting encore highly relevant to the plot, the character, the advertising client and its product. 

You see, New Zealand life insurance provider, Partners Life, needed a way to wake up its audience to the notion that death can strike at any time in a market that's one of the most under-insured in the world. 

So they teamed up with one of New Zealand's most popular whodunnit murder mystery drama series, 'The Brokenwood Mysteries' to drive this home. In each episode, a character gets whacked.  But during the end credits, the audience gets a surprise as the character on the autopsy table comes back to life for a final performance.  

For example, after the first episode, Janis, the first murder victim of the series, comes back to live to lament the unexpected nature of death in an encor by Kiwi actress Meryl Main. Looking to the camera, she says, “Well this is unexpected...what are my boys going to do without their mummy now, sorry lads there’s no life insurance policy”.

You get the picture. And so did the agency—because they worked with the same director and crew from the drama series to ensure it came across authentically to the audience, which Ad Nut appreciates. 

Each ad spot ends with a pitch to ‘plan ahead and get life right’ with Partners Life. Other similar tongue-in-cheek ads from the insurer aired throughout the six-part series.

Ad Nut is well aware of those who will not appreciate this campaign. Namely, all the people in the drama's rolling credits, of course, whose names no one will pay attention to. Those same people might be doubly annoyed that Ad Nut will now roll the production credits below for those who stole attention away from their production credits. 


Client: Partners Life
CEO: Naomi Ballantyne 
Chief Commercial Officer: Tony Arthur 
Chief Marketing Officer: Kris Ballantyne 
General Manager, Marketing: Tina Morgan 
Sponsorships Manager: Mika Ballantyne  
Marketing Specialist: Gerhard van Graan  
Brand Co-ordinator: Sophie Broom  

Agency: Special
Creative Agency: Special Group New Zealand
Chief Creative Officer: Tony Bradbourne
Executive Creative Director: Lisa Fedyszyn
Executive Creative Director: Jonathan McMahon
Copywriter Jack Gravatt
Art Director: Till Dittmers
Executive Producer: Sally Lankshear
Senior Producer: Casey King
Group Business Director: Hugo Parcell
Business Director: Hannah Ross
Chief Strategy Officer: Rory Gallery
Group Strategy Director: Nick Salter
Media Director: Briar Rowsell
Head of PR & Influence: Kelly Grindle

Production Company: South Pacific Pictures
Director: Mike Smith
Post Production: Images & Sound
Music & Sound House: Images & Sound


Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.


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