Westpac – Air Rescue

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Westpac is Australia's first bank, first company and this iconic brand has been proudly supporting Australia, its people and communities to prosper and grow for nearly 200 years. 

Traditional advertising was definitely working as a way of getting Westpac’s key messages across to the consumer. However, Mediacom felt there was a need to go much further to really engage Australians in a much more emotional and engaging context.

In September 2013, Westpac celebrated 40 years of partnership with Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service (WLRHS). Partnering with Westpac has allowed the Service to grow from just one helicopter in 1973 to a national network of 16, flying from 13 bases across Australia and includes a boat in the Northern Territory.

As the naming rights sponsor of the Service there is excellent brand recognition, but an opportunity existed for further education about the breadth of the service and Westpac’s involvement and ongoing support.

This iconic service plays a significant role to ensure safety for all Australians and their communities.  The work they do everyday is both courageous and inspirational spanning from bush to beach and everything in between. There was a lack of understanding that it is a national Service and the ongoing need for public donations to ensure the Service remains a fee community service.


The WLRHS is one of the oldest corporate community sponsorship in Australia; Westpac has been supporting the service since inception in 1973. Westpac’s continued support has allowed the service to remain a free community service; no individual has ever paid to be rescued. Aviation is expensive with the average one hour flight costing approximately $4k there is a need for public donations to supplement Westpac and Government funding. The trouble is people have charity fatigue – Westpac’s research about the Service demonstrates that people are moved by hearing from survivors and crew.

So how would Mediacom increase feelings of positivity around Westpac and its association with the WLRHS in an engaging and believable way? Whatever the solution, it needed to achieve the goals without being perceived as pushing Westpac’s agenda whilst ensuring it stays true to the brand positioning of ‘Australia proudly supported by Westpac’?

As opposed to talking about the brand’s support of WLRHS, and being seen as pushing Westpac’s agenda, the agency needed to let it do the talking itself by simply showing it. How? By creating a TV series and broadcasting it in primetime on Australia’s biggest TV network.

The idea was to follow the men and women of the WLRHS. See the action as it happens through the eyes of a core cast of rescuers as they enter the lives of ordinary Australians in need: fishermen in trouble on the rocks, injured farmers, flood victims, motorbike riders and holidaymakers in the wrong place at the wrong time. To demonstrate the value of the Service by telling engaging stories that resonate with Australians and link back to the brand positioning ‘Australia proudly supported by Westpac.’


Essentially it was ad-funded content that not only needed to be entertaining enough to run on a main TV channel but Mediacom needed to sell it in to a channel which had a perfect strategic fit with Westpac and has a history of best in class delivery within this genre.

So, the agency pitched the opportunity to all three FTA networks and agreed a contract with Channel Seven based on a main station, prime time guarantee and an agreed promotion schedule. Channel Seven best fit the criteria, having proven to be the best at delivering programmes and audiences across the board and specifically for this genre.

Air Rescue launched on Monday the 4th of November at 8pm. It is an edge-of-your-seat factual series that rewrites the observational genre. It skillfully blends the best cinematic story telling together with the idiosyncrasies and absurdities of real-life personalities. The series also uniquely introduces stunning new visual and narrative-based methods.

And throughout all of this, broadcast in prime time on one of Australia’s largest TV networks, are Westpac branded helicopters  and pilots using “Westpac 1” and “Westpac 2” call signs. Priceless, subtle and powerful brand communication.

To support the TV series, Mediacom also created 15 webisodes that were seeded across social media and PR media driving interest and excitement.


The TV show delivered beyond all expectations:

- The average audience across six weeks was 867,000 in Metro TV and 542,000 in regional achieving a total series average of 1.41 million viewers.
- In Metro TV a total of 4.3 million viewers watched at least one minute (reach) of the programme at some stage during the six weeks.
- In total over the six weeks it was number one in its timeslot.
- Air rescue created massive social buzz, achieving over 1.69 million Twitter impressions and Facebook had over two million unique viewers.
- PR coverage amounted to over 231 stories achieving $2.4m in PR value
- In terms of Return on Investment - the six episodes delivered an ROI of  8 x greater media value versus traditional advertising.

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