Bushfire recovery campaigns: who got it right?

Circul8 | February 28, 2020

  • Creative Marketing
  • Marketing Strategy

As the 2019-20 Australian bushfires raged through the country, grassroots campaigns immediately emerged from the embers.

Bushfire brandalism hit the streets of Melbourne and Sydney to call for climate action.

Aussies were asked to show support for fire-affected towns by grabbing an Empty Esky.

Celeste Barber raised over $50 million dollars.

And a sex worker fundraised hundreds of thousands by selling her nude photos online.

And then, finally, the rains came.

Though the downpour brought sweet relief to many, our tourism industry continues to battle one of its worst dry spells. The one message being broadcast near and far — “Please come visit.”

The important job of disseminating this message (obviously) fell on the desks of our federal and state governments.

So how did they do?

Let’s investigate, shall we. 

Tourism Australia
“Holiday Here This Year” 

Photo of Tourism Australia's Holiday Here this year supergraphic

When it comes to crisis management, timing and tone are everything. This year, Tourism Australia missed the mark on both—they buggered it. 

The Kylie Minogue campaign, Matesong’, was set to shine the spotlight on Australia. Technically it did, but not in the way intended.

The multi-million dollar campaign was launched at the worst time — smack bang in the middle of the crisis. People would see a picturesque Australia inbetween news segments reporting on Aussies towns burnt to a crisp. 

The campaign was pulled off the air, but not in time to save Tourism Australia from being labelled as tone-deaf, amongst other things. 

In response, Holiday Here This Year’ was launched towards the start of 2020. Thankfully, they got it right the second time round.

Holiday Here This Year’ is the country’s domestic marketing campaign. Instead of looking abroad, Tourism Australia turned its focus inwards. #HolidayHereThisYear was launched to rally the Australian spirit, urging Aussies to cross state lines, not oceans, and holiday right here in our own backyard.

Rolled out across social media, radio, print, OOH and content partnerships, the campaign offers a practical call-to-arms to Aussies who wish to directly help those affected by the disaster by having a good time here in Australia. 

Whenever you can show people a way to support a cause close to their heart without compromising the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) factor, that’s a strategic win-win. 

The campaign offers a unified platform for the tourism industry to work under, in addition to providing Aussies with all the information they need to plan their domestic adventure.

What most impresses us about this campaign has been the turn-around and adoption rate. The integrated nationwide campaign clocked a quick response time, all things considered, and has been embraced by tourism bodies big and small, further strengthening the campaign under one unified banner. 

Destination NSW
“Now’s The Time To Love NSW”

Photo of Destination NSW's "Now's the time to Love NSW" Supergraphic

NSW and Victoria were hit the hardest, with the crisis spanning from November to late January. In February (2020), Destination NSW launched “Now’s The Time to Love NSW”.

The social media-led campaign was created to work in congruence with #HolidayHereThisYear. Relying on user-generated content to restore traveller sentiment, the live campaign encourages people to share photos of their favourite places in the state with the hashtag #LoveNSW.

The NSW government did catch some heat for it though. 

Not because of the campaign, but because of its response time. Labour’s tourism spokeswoman, Jenny Aitchison, said “The NSW Government has no excuse for not having some campaign to counter these fires, ready to go to assist tourist operators, people who have lost their entire summer incomes.”

Despite its pre-release criticism, the social-led campaign has garnered a lot of success. Thousands have done their bit by contributing online with the hashtags #LoveNSW and #RecoveryWeekend. We’ve counted over 10,000 on Instagram alone!

Other sugar-hit campaigns were launched around the same time include South Australia’s #BookThemOut and Victoria’s #ThisIsVictoria.

Australian Open
“Australia is open”

Austraila is open written on Australian Open court

As the whole world tuned in to watch our country’s biggest tennis event, Tennis Australia positioned an important message right on centre court.

Mid-tournament, Tennis Australia rebranded the Australian Open to ‘Australia is open’. 

The new branding was replaced all over the Australian Open, on and off the court, and was boosted by a hero video led by Chris Hemsworth to explain the move. What’s more, the campaign was launched just ahead of Aussie, Ash Barty’s, semi-finals.

For us, this move was more impressive than Federer’s backhand. 

To round out the integrated campaign, big names like Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka were used across social channels to provide social proof that Australia is indeed open for business.

We love the resourcefulness, quick-thinking and quick feet of Tennis Australia.
(The only thing we didn’t like? Chris Hemsworth’s opening line in the video.)


Need to make sure your next recovery campaign hits the mark? Check out our #FijiNow cyclone recovery campaign to see how we turned fear into fomo. Hit us up.


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