Campaign Review: Bupa’s ‘life happens’ takes on Carnival’s ‘choose fun’

In Campaign Review, Mumbrella invites the industry's creatives and strategists to offer their views on recent ad campaigns. This week, Mumbrella asked Orchard's Mikaela Crimmins and Red Havas' Tom Manning to share their thoughts on the latest work from Bupa and Carnival Cruise Lines.

Brand: Bupa

Campaign: ‘Because Life Happens’

Agency: Thinkerbell

The verdict:

Mikaela Crimmins, head of strategy at Orchard, gave it a 7/10, saying: 

Call me lazy, but I like ads that don’t make me think too hard. If you make me think, you’ve most likely lost me and next minute I’m wondering what ‘optional extras are’ and why I should have thought about upping my pregnancy cover 12 months before I got preggers (who thinks that far out?!).

Anyway, what I’m saying is, this ad does its job. It doesn’t make me think. It makes me feel reassured that the brand with the oh so cute name ‘Bupa’ will be there, for ‘when life happens’ . It’s simple, positive and doesn’t try to over-promise. The track and execution are an emotional free sample of what I hope the brand the delivers. Call me simple, stupid but I’m here for it.

Tom Manning, creative lead at Red Havas, gave it a 4/10, saying:

The first batch of retail-focused ads that Thinkerbell did for Bupa was excellent. I remember gripping the arm of my sofa as the young woman wrestled a chest of drawers down a set of stairs. The vignettes felt real and relatable, prompting me to consider doing the grown-up thing and getting health insurance (which I did!).

With this ad though, I’m lost in the clouds. The ‘Because Life Happens’ brand platform is still there, but the slices of life portrayed in the ad feel all over the place—like a heavenly assortment of stock footage.

The campaign write-up mentions how this spot features moments where “Bupa can prepare you for every day – rather than just being there when something bad happens.” Sure, fine. But life’s bad bits gave the original ads their power. I’m unsure what this ad is meant to make me think, feel, or do. Fingers crossed they find their feet again for the next campaign and get back to making brilliant work.

Brand: Carnival Cruise Line

Campaign: ‘Choose Fun’

Agency: Clemenger BBDO Melbourne

The verdict: 




Mik gave it a 5/10, saying:

Oh man, this campaign really peaked my holiday vibes. The cute little dude at the start, is totally me, planning my holiday outfits for all occasions. Little Miss Sunshine’s attitude is everything and the dad who went to Lowes and bought one shirt in all colours, just brilliant. This spot really nails ‘holiday fun’, and as a piece of film is charming.

If this campaign is directed at those who ‘choose to cruise’ then I reckon this does the job, all they need is a gentle nudge. However, if this is intended to appeal to the land dwellers, like me, then in the words of bon Jon Jovi ‘it’s only halfway there’. This ad makes holidays look fun, but it hasn’t convinced me and my family to step on the floating petri dish.

Tom gave it a 5/10, saying:

What do you expect to see in a commercial for a cruise line company? Let’s play bingo.
Sun, sea, and sailing ships. Cruise crews in fun, nautical uniforms. A beautiful view out of a cabin porthole. Families and couples: at the pool, at the buffet, dining with the captain, living it up at the bar.

So, credit to the Clems team and Carnival clients for breaking the category conventions and setting the spot before we even board. There’s a human truth here: the holiday excitement starts long before the holiday. But is it ownable for Carnival? Not really. Planes, trains, and tourism boards could probably all take this approach.

The film itself is upbeat and feel-good. It’s an effective ad for holidays in general—it reminds me of how long it’s been since I last went away!—but it doesn’t persuade me to take a cruise with Carnival. Maybe I’m not the target market—the film might appeal to Committed Cruisers—but it feels like a missed opportunity to create a lasting impression or show how Carnival do cruises differently.


As told to Kalila Welch. If you’re a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email


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