This TV show’s killed-off characters return at the end of the episodes to pitch life insurance

Special NZ convinced producers of New Zealand’s ‘The Brokenwood Mysteries’ to embrace a cleverly immersive advertising idea

Published On
Jun 13, 2023
A murdered woman from the TV show “The Brokenwood Mysteries” staring at the camera

Editor's Pick

Ahead of Cannes Lions next week, we’re exploring a few top contenders—including this darkly wonderful, Titanium-shortlisted bit of product placement from insurance company Partners Life in New Zealand.

“The Brokenwood Mysteries” is a popular TV drama in New Zealand. The detectives on the murder mystery show investigate a new death every week. So, agency Special NZ came up with a cleverly immersive ad idea—having each week’s killed-off character return at the end of the episode to talk about life insurance for Partners Life.

They convinced the show’s producers, South Pacific Pictures, to add an extra scene just before the credits at the end. These unexpected codas continued throughout the entirety of the show’s most recent season.


There’s a nice breakdown of the campaign at B&T. Lisa Fedyszyn, executive creative director at Special NZ, said it wasn’t easy getting the TV show on board with the idea.

“If you were a showrunner and you heard that an ad agency wanted to talk to you about a life insurance company infiltrating your storyline and using your characters, we would all run a mile,” she said. “From a TV development point of view, advertising is seen as a necessary evil that ‘broke up’ your content while paying some of the bills.”

So the agency set out to strategically detail the benefits of the partnership to the showrunners. 

“We created a pitch document for the production company, which described the benefits of the partnership,” Fedyszyn said. “This included the brand’s ability to create additional talkability around the show, the offer to use the production company’s crew and directors, as well as respectfully writing to the tone of voice of the characters and ‘The Brokenwood Mysteries.’”

She added: “By understanding what was in it for a team of partners who typically shied away from advertising, we created breakthrough work that helped a brand weave its way into the most unlikely of places—a prime-time television show.”

Fedyszyn said the message reached 59 percent of New Zealanders, with brand consideration up 5 percent, brand awareness up 6 percent and appetite for life insurance up 12 percent.


Jun 13, 2023
Client :
Partners Life
Agency :
Special Group NZ
Managing Director :
Naomi Ballantyne
Chief Creative Officer :
Tony Bradbourne
Executive Creative Director :
Lisa Fedyszyn
Executive Creative Director :
Jonathan McMahon
Chief Marketing Officer :
Kris Ballantyne 
Communications Manager :
Mika Ballantyne

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