Back Lismore

Client: Lismore City

Back Lismore 1

A campaign to engage the entire community, and change the narrative, after a significant natural disaster.

The Brief

In February 2022, Lismore city (NSW, Australia) and the surrounding region was hit by the biggest flood in modern Australian history. 14-metre-high waters left 24 dead, more than 10,000 people homeless, and essential businesses and key infrastructure destroyed. And while significant progress had been made in the recovery and rebuild programme, the Lismore City Council felt locals needed support to move forward from such a significant disaster.

Based on our experience in post-quake Christchurch, we were invited to create a communication campaign that shifted the narrative from ‘flood city’ to ‘open for business.’

The Solution

In a two-day intense Discovery phase, we met with over 70 locals ranging from council employees through to community groups and business associations. What struck us was:

  • The pride and passion in their unique, diverse, creative and resilient city;
  • The burning desire to get back to some kind of normal; and
  • How much had already been achieved.

We considered a number of possible campaign directions including a business campaign, a tourism promotion, and a public information initiative. Throughout the city, we repeatedly saw the phrase ‘I (heart) Lismore’ as graffiti, as art and as merchandise. We decided to build on this sentiment, turning locals’ passion for Lismore into ‘action for Lismore'.  

The idea of Back Lismore, with its double meaning, was born. We wanted to clearly demonstrate that Lismore was back up and running and that it was time for locals to get behind their region again. The campaign was developed in three parts:

  1. A pre-launch campaign – where we promoted daily stories of Lismore people and businesses, up and running and moving forward. The goal was to create momentum through multiple real stories of Lismore moving forward.
  2. Drive awareness – A high profile campaign to build campaign awareness and momentum. The launch event was at the high-profile Back Lismore Show, complete with display stand, multiple giveaways, merchandise, a competition and a giant #backlismore selfie-backdrop. These activities were supported by radio, press, social, digital, street banners, window displays, eDM and outdoor advertising, ensuring all in the region and nearby were exposed multiple times.
  3. Drive action – ongoing targeted activity to encourage specific actions like shopping local, visiting local restaurants and bars, and supporting local events and activities. This phase was also about encouraging local businesses, activities, and events to include Back Lismore as part of their promotions.

With such a diverse range of activities, we needed a hugely adaptable identity platform that could be tailored for the different activities and sectors of the community. Back Lismore could be highly personalised with I, we and specific audience language (e.g. Teachers Back Lismore). It could also support a direct call to action like Back Lismore Shopping or Back Lismore Arts & Culture.

This localised platform approach was also applied to the visual identity, starting with four different logo styles and a series of vibrant colours to ensure high impact. A series of textures spoke to different aspects of Lismore like diversity, environment, indigenous culture, and creativity. A series of images and a suite of icons were also added to enhance the story-telling potential. This variety of assets made it easy for us – and locals - to mix messages and visuals to create targeted and impactful communications.

We also developed a campaign website, provided locals with a selection of ideas about how they could back Lismore, supported by an inspirational Back Lismore video. It also included a toolbox of assets retailers and event organisers could download to use as part of their own promotional activities.

The Results

We’ve seen real engagement with the Back Lismore stories, and retailers and event organisers have embraced the Back Lismore material. The campaign had three objective and delivered on all three, based on our post-campaign research:

(1) Change the narrative to ‘open for business’ – nearly 50% of respondents said yes;

(2) Drive positive sentiment – 60% felt more positive about Lismore’s future; and

(3) Drive action to support Lismore’s recovery – those who saw the campaign undertook 27% more activities to back Lismore, during the campaign period.

Plans for a second phase are already underway.