Eric Bana voices pro bono bushfire campaign as adland rallies for Gippsland

Australian actor Eric Bana has lent his voice to a series of radio and TV ads to drive donations to the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund (GERF), as bushfires continue to devastate the Victorian region. As of this morning, the campaign has already brought in more than $1m in donations.

On Friday, TBWA’s Melbourne CEO, Kimberlee Wells, called Mark Coad, incoming CEO of  IPG Mediabrands, and, over the weekend, the industry began to mobilise. Wells’ team spearheaded the creative efforts, Squeak E Clean donated studio time for AV recordings, Facebook’s team helped with social media, and Coad proceeded to line up media spots.

An example of the out of home creative that is already live

TBWA sent 70 pieces of creative to run across sites donated by Ooh Media, QMS, JC Decaux and 7-Eleven digital panels. Two radio spots began to run across all Melbourne metro radio stations including Fox, Nova, 3AW, Triple M, Gold, Kiis, and Smooth.

And TBWA created TV ads after TV networks asked Coad how they could be involved.

“There are times like this where the advertising industry can really come together. It’s a really positive side of our industry. When we can make a difference like this, you don’t have to ask twice for people to help. The media industry has got the capacity and the willingness and the character to do something about it,” Coad told Mumbrella.

“Over the weekend, when a lot of media owners saw what we were doing on social media, they contacted me and said, ‘How can we help’? There’s been quite a few of those. And even other companies that have media assets, 7-Eleven being one of them, who literally just approached me on LinkedIn and said ‘We’ve got some screens, how can we get some artwork up on them?'”

Seven, Nine, and Ten received the assets yesterday afternoon, to be rolled out as soon as possible.

The campaign has a target of reaching $5m in donations for GERF, a volunteer-run organisation operating on the ground in Gippsland and distributing funds directly to families whose homes have burnt down. GERF’s response is immediate, often providing financial assistance to families just hours after a request for help is made.

So far, $1,048,284 has been raised, with GERF approving 136 referrals – worth $347,000 – from community members who have either lost their homes or experienced severe property damage.

“We knew early that we needed to raise around $5m to support everyone in our community who had either lost or experienced severe damage to their home, farm or property. For a small local charity organisation run by volunteers, that’s a massive task,” explained GERF’s Danny McDonald, its executive committee member of communications.

“Strategically, we needed to appeal very quickly to people’s generosity and empathy for those who had been impacted by this horrendous event.

“Kimberlee, Mark and the TBWA team understood that and responded with absolute precision at speed and scale. Kimberlee’s ability to influence and galvanise the industry to support our cause has been incredible – it is what corporate social responsibility looks like.”

Wells said the support from the industry has been overwhelming – with media owners freeing up and donating space, and people donating time – and is desperately needed to support an organisation lesser known than larger state and national charities.

GERF, she said, works directly with the region, and is often the first port of call for local residents. That means ensuring the fundraising effort meets the demand.

“Awareness, influence and creativity are this industry’s stock-in-trade. And right now, the people of Gippsland and the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund need them more than ever,” Wells said.

“We are proud to see our industry galvanise around this important fundraising effort and encourage everyone to come together in support. Our hearts and strength is with the whole of the Gippsland community and all Australians impacted by this unfolding crisis.”

Bana offered to voice the radio and TV spots yesterday morning, and already that creative has been turned around.

“Victoria is burning. Gippsland is burning. In Melbourne, we’ve seen and tasted the smoke. Across our state, the situation is much worse,” he says in the voiceover, which ends with a call to donate on the GERF website or at any NAB branch.

In Victoria, four people remain missing, while two people have died and 110 properties been destroyed. Authorities are bracing for further bushfire emergencies in Gippsland as conditions are expected to worsen on Thursday and Friday. Across the state, 31 fires continue to burn.

Donate directly to GERF here. Every dollar you give is directly given to families who have lost everything. Your donation is tax deductible. 

Media owners or brands that would like to amplify GERF’s message can contact TBWA is ready to supply campaign assets to you.

If you’d like to assist with bushfire recovery, relief and rescue efforts, please explore the options below: 


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.