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Launched on Sunday, the television advertisement features two American buddy cops in a skirmish with mobsters on the docks.
''Joe Bro'' is wearing his bulletproof vest but, ''Brandon'' just carries his in one hand as they leap off a boat, take out a villain, bust through a door and jump through a window.
The closing scene sees Brandon shot by one of the mobsters.
Too late, he attempts to put on his vest and Joe Bro is left holding his best mate as he breathes his last.
The campaign was inspired by Maritime NZ research, which shows men aged 40 and above are the least likely to zip up a life jacket on the water.
Maritime NZ education and communications manager Pania Shingleton, of Wellington, said despite 90% of boating fatalities being men, too many did not realise ''being close to your life jacket is like being close to your bulletproof vest - it's just not close enough.''
''People think if they have an accident, they'll have time to put their life jacket on, but boating tragedies tell a different story.
''The ad shows that, to save your life, life jackets must be worn, not carried."
In the Queenstown Lakes District, on any waterway, boats must carry a life jacket for every person on board and all children aged 10 years or younger must have their life jacket fastened.
On any vessel 6m long or less, life jackets must be worn.