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Behind the Work

Responding to a Crisis

Responding to a Crisis

Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

February 12, 2020

Havas Sports & Entertainment Australia’s Niamh Conroy talks about how her team guided NRMA Insurance to react in the midst of the devastating bushfires in New South Wales.

"The day we heard the news that fire had ripped through Port Macquarie killing hundreds of koalas, our hearts sank and many tears were shed"

Last summer, Havas Sports & Entertainment Australia helped to launch an impactful campaign for NRMA Insurance, which focused on protecting the most vulnerable Australians of all— koalas. The campaign, hinged on NRMA’s slogan “Every Home is Worth Protecting,” told the story of a conscientious little boy who tried to find a home for a lost koala after its habitat had been destroyed. As the partnership lead for NRMA,  Sports & Entertainment brokered a deal for the client to partner with Conservation Volunteers Australia and pledged to plant a tree with every home insurance policy sold, eventually planting more than 30,000 trees to create viable habitats for koalas by October. 

While the heartwarming campaign proved to be a massive success, Head of Strategic Partnerships and Content Niamh Conroy and her team knew they could not sit on their heels as the most devastating bushfires Australia has experienced in decades ravished 29 million acres of land and killed an estimated 40,000 koalas. “Working in the fast-paced, often stressful world of advertising, you sometimes need to remind yourself that we’re not saving lives,” said Conroy. “However, for the first time in my 15-year career, myself and the team were genuinely able to say that in this case, we truly were. The day we heard the news that fire had ripped through Port Macquarie killing hundreds of koalas, our hearts sank and many tears were shed. We knew that it was our responsibility to get out there and do something.”

With the koala at the front of NRMA’s recent campaign, Conroy’s team knew it was important to spring into action, and continue to help preserve and protect the brand’s adopted mascot. Havas Sports & Entertainment helped the client establish a partnership with Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, donating much needed funds to the organization that was in desperate need of support in the midst of the crisis. Conroy said: “We immediately called our client and recommended we partner with Port Macquarie Koala Hospital to provide urgent care items and support during this time.”

The original campaign, created by the Monkeys, was re-edited and re-voiced by “Jurassic Park” actor Sam Neill to draw awareness to the important partnership and encourage Australians to join the cause. Personally affected by the campaign, members of NRMA’s team volunteered to help the hospital in any way they could, donating their time and resources to help the organization amplify awareness through marketing and social campaigns. Through the support of the campaign and Port Macquarie Koala Hospital’s own efforts, more than AU$7.4 million has been raised to help support and save the species through the organization. 

"I think it is incredibly important for brands to be supporting causes like this, however, it must come from a credible and genuine place"

Conroy believes it was vital for NRMA to involve itself in efforts to help save koalas and to follow through on their commitment to the cause. “I think it is incredibly important for brands to be supporting causes like this, however, it must come from a credible and genuine place,” she said. “NRMA were able to talk about their support of koalas during the bushfires due to the credibility they had gained from their partnership with Conservation Volunteers Australia and their promise to help save the koala in the months prior to this disaster. It would have been a huge mistake from them if they hadn’t sprung into action, customers would have expected it.

“Brands who jump on the bandwagon and use events like this for their own gains are quickly found out and the negativity that surrounds that far outweighs any benefits.”

On a global level, Havas has rallied together to donate funds to Australian organizations in great need of support in the aftermath of the fires, which were recently quenched by heavy rainfall. But, the cause resonates most with those closest to the disaster and Conroy says the bushfires have highlighted just how resilient Australians are.  

“Over the past three months, watching the bushfires rip through all parts of Australia, killing millions of animals, destroying homes and taking lives has been heartbreaking and many times we’ve felt helpless as a team. However, the resilient spirit of Australians has been incredibly uplifting. From a Village perspective, we have rallied together to donate funds to the most-in-need organizations, which has been replicated across many Villages in the network. Last week, the prayers and support from around the world must have been answered as we experienced an incredible deluge of rain that has finally put out the last of the fires.”

“Looking to the future with our client NRMA, we will continue to work with Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and Conservation Volunteers Australia to work out the best solution to the problem that still remains—how can we help secure the future of one of Australia’s most vulnerable and iconic animals in a way that creates meaningful change? All I can say is watch this space.”

To donate to Port Macquarie Koala Hospital click here.

To volunteer with Conservation Volunteers Australia click here.

"The day we heard the news that fire had ripped through Port Macquarie killing hundreds of koalas, our hearts sank and many tears were shed"

Last summer, Havas Sports & Entertainment Australia helped to launch an impactful campaign for NRMA Insurance, which focused on protecting the most vulnerable Australians of all— koalas. The campaign, hinged on NRMA’s slogan “Every Home is Worth Protecting,” told the story of a conscientious little boy who tried to find a home for a lost koala after its habitat had been destroyed. As the partnership lead for NRMA,  Sports & Entertainment brokered a deal for the client to partner with Conservation Volunteers Australia and pledged to plant a tree with every home insurance policy sold, eventually planting more than 30,000 trees to create viable habitats for koalas by October. 

While the heartwarming campaign proved to be a massive success, Head of Strategic Partnerships and Content Niamh Conroy and her team knew they could not sit on their heels as the most devastating bushfires Australia has experienced in decades ravished 29 million acres of land and killed an estimated 40,000 koalas. “Working in the fast-paced, often stressful world of advertising, you sometimes need to remind yourself that we’re not saving lives,” said Conroy. “However, for the first time in my 15-year career, myself and the team were genuinely able to say that in this case, we truly were. The day we heard the news that fire had ripped through Port Macquarie killing hundreds of koalas, our hearts sank and many tears were shed. We knew that it was our responsibility to get out there and do something.”

With the koala at the front of NRMA’s recent campaign, Conroy’s team knew it was important to spring into action, and continue to help preserve and protect the brand’s adopted mascot. Havas Sports & Entertainment helped the client establish a partnership with Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, donating much needed funds to the organization that was in desperate need of support in the midst of the crisis. Conroy said: “We immediately called our client and recommended we partner with Port Macquarie Koala Hospital to provide urgent care items and support during this time.”

The original campaign, created by the Monkeys, was re-edited and re-voiced by “Jurassic Park” actor Sam Neill to draw awareness to the important partnership and encourage Australians to join the cause. Personally affected by the campaign, members of NRMA’s team volunteered to help the hospital in any way they could, donating their time and resources to help the organization amplify awareness through marketing and social campaigns. Through the support of the campaign and Port Macquarie Koala Hospital’s own efforts, more than AU$7.4 million has been raised to help support and save the species through the organization. 

"I think it is incredibly important for brands to be supporting causes like this, however, it must come from a credible and genuine place"

Conroy believes it was vital for NRMA to involve itself in efforts to help save koalas and to follow through on their commitment to the cause. “I think it is incredibly important for brands to be supporting causes like this, however, it must come from a credible and genuine place,” she said. “NRMA were able to talk about their support of koalas during the bushfires due to the credibility they had gained from their partnership with Conservation Volunteers Australia and their promise to help save the koala in the months prior to this disaster. It would have been a huge mistake from them if they hadn’t sprung into action, customers would have expected it.

“Brands who jump on the bandwagon and use events like this for their own gains are quickly found out and the negativity that surrounds that far outweighs any benefits.”

On a global level, Havas has rallied together to donate funds to Australian organizations in great need of support in the aftermath of the fires, which were recently quenched by heavy rainfall. But, the cause resonates most with those closest to the disaster and Conroy says the bushfires have highlighted just how resilient Australians are.  

“Over the past three months, watching the bushfires rip through all parts of Australia, killing millions of animals, destroying homes and taking lives has been heartbreaking and many times we’ve felt helpless as a team. However, the resilient spirit of Australians has been incredibly uplifting. From a Village perspective, we have rallied together to donate funds to the most-in-need organizations, which has been replicated across many Villages in the network. Last week, the prayers and support from around the world must have been answered as we experienced an incredible deluge of rain that has finally put out the last of the fires.”

“Looking to the future with our client NRMA, we will continue to work with Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and Conservation Volunteers Australia to work out the best solution to the problem that still remains—how can we help secure the future of one of Australia’s most vulnerable and iconic animals in a way that creates meaningful change? All I can say is watch this space.”

To donate to Port Macquarie Koala Hospital click here.

To volunteer with Conservation Volunteers Australia click here.

Patricia Murphy joined Havas Group in October 2019 as a Senior Editor and Writer. She has a background in digital journalism and content creation.

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