Royal Lifesaving WA appeals to ‘Mermates’ to help save their drunk friends from drowning

Royal Lifesaving WA is warning against the dangers of drinking alcohol around water with a campaign aiming to reduce the number of young Western Australians drowning whilst under the influence.

Based on the myths of sirens, which called sailors into the ocean, the campaign sees ‘Mermates’ appear to call their drunk friends back onto safe ground. The call to action encourages friends to become a ‘mermate’ for their inebriated pals over summer.

Lauren Nimmo, Royal Life Saving WA senior manager, said: “We continue to be concerned by the influence that alcohol has on drowning amongst young people – particularly young males. The ‘Mermates’ campaign will help to affect behaviour change by giving young people practical tips for how to talk their mates out of danger. We are hoping that it will create a powerful way to turn peer to peer messaging into action to prevent drowning.”

The campaign, from 303 Mullen Lowe Perth, will appear across digital video, social media, Youtube, and through a content partnership with Junkee. The media strategy was completed by Mediahub.

A corporate partnership between Royal Lifesaving WA and Rusty Australia will see a line of co-branded merchandise released in 2020 and the fashion brand’s ambassadors loan their voices to the cause.

John Linton, 303 Mullen Lowe head of planning, said they wanted to make it easier for mates to intervene when their friend has gone a step too far.

“In the moments of truth when young people are getting into danger, we know it’s their mates who have the best chance of getting through to them. But we also know how hard it is for them to say something in these situations. We wanted to destigmatise doing the right thing by creating a persona our heroes could use to call out their mates’ stupid behaviour,” Linton said.

Richard Berney, 303 Mullen Lowe executive creative director, added that despite the seriousness of the topic, humour was important to get the point across to young people.

“Lifesaving isn’t generally funny. But it should be – at least in this case. ‘Be a Mermate’ arms young people with comedy to get their drunk mates away from water. It’s a ridiculous idea, and about right if you’re 18 to 24 with a drink in your hand,” Berney said.

Melita Masters, senior writer for the campaign, said: “Our Mermates aren’t dissimilar to the iconic maidens from maritime fables of days gone by, but with more beards, love handles and golden armpit hair. And, instead of seducing men towards their doom, we’re appealing to Mermates to lure their mates away from it.”


Client: Royal Life Saving WA
Lauren Nimmo – Senior Manager – Health and Promotion
Georgia Eaton – Coordinator – Health and Promotion & Research

Agency: 303 MullenLowe Perth
Head of Planning – John Linton
Executive Creative Director – Richard Berney
Senior Copywriter – Melita Masters
Art Director – Bianca Galan-Dwyer, Stephen Hansen
Media Planning – Kylie Macey / René Migliore
Business Lead – Todd Baker
Business Manager – Eloise Cribb
Producer – Rozanne Fretz
Design / Animation – Alby Furfaro, Jake Ransom, Andrew Allingham

Production Company: Imaginary Creatures / Boogie Monster
Sound: Cue Sound – Mike Fragomeni
Director: Drew Kendell
Producer: Steve Vojkovic


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