Brow Beat

Why Did Cruise Line King Carnival Use a JFK Speech in Their Super Bowl Ad? Some Context.

After the first quarter of Super Bowl XLIX, an advertisement for Carnival Corporation titled “Come Back to the Sea” aired.* Accompanying tranquil images of huge ocean liners was the familiar voice of John F. Kennedy, saying things like this: “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch—we are going back from whence we came.”

Powerful stuff! But where did that speech come from? If you’re wondering on what occasion the former president had the opportunity to praise the ocean and pontificate on its deep, inherent connection to humanity, the answer is the 1962 America’s Cup. That year was the first in which America’s stranglehold on the Cup—commonly seen as the world’s foremost yachting competition—was challenged by a country other than Great Britain or Canada, with Australia emerging as the surprise contender. In a short speech, Kennedy praised the “old relationship” between the two countries, calling Australia “very satisfactory friends in peace,” “the best of friends in war,” and home of “the most extraordinary athletic group in the world today.”

It’s a particularly touching moment in US-Australian relations, and Kennedy’s proclamation that “we all came from the sea” was a typically eloquent way of celebrating the great distance but close relationship that bound the two nations. It’s also, of course, a pretty savvy way to lend profundity and scope to a cruise line advertisement.

*Correction, Feb. 1, 2015: This post originally misstated that the advertisement was by Carnival Cruise Lines. It was by Carnival Corporation, parent company of nine cruise lines.