The Australian Financial Review
Neil Lawrence: a legend
It had begun so well. But Wednesday stopped being any fun at all a little after 3pm when a friend called to tell us Neil Lawrence had died.
We called someone else to check it was wrong. It wasn’t.
Then we left the office and had a cry in the park.
Neil was a legend many times over – a legend in advertising (most recently, he reinvigorated Qantas with the beautiful Feels Like Home campaign), a legend in politics (he created Kevin07, he sustained Jay Weatherill) and a legend across the table from you at lunch (particularly at Walsh Bay restaurant Hickson’s where they, quite rightly, adored him).
Of course he wasn’t perfect. But we forgive him for his role in creating the Rudd monster. He always forgave us for going on in this column, ad nauseam, about his derrière tattoo – the result of a bet with Weatherill and his friend and pollster Tony Mitchelmore that he was gentleman enough to honour.
He was a key supporter of “Recognise”, the movement to change the Australian constitution to give recognition to the first Australians. The last time we caught up, he was worried about how it was all going.
He died on a surfing holiday in the Maldives, ending at 61, an extraordinary life.
God, he’ll be missed.
Neil Lawrence’s ‘Kevin 07’ brilliance remembered
Neil Lawrence, the advertising executive who achieved what many thought impossible by getting Kevin Rudd into office, was remembered on Wednesday as one of Australia’s great creative minds, a larrikin, and “a deep thinker in an industry often accused of shallowness”.
Politicians and business people paid tribute to the 61-year-old architect of the “Kevin 07” campaign after he died in a diving accident in the Maldives where he was on holiday with his son.
Former Queensland premier Anna Bligh said she was in shock, after dining with Mr Lawrence only last week. There “was absolutely no doubt” his marketing campaign had played “a very big part” in her own election to premiership in 2009. “People will talk about ‘Kevin 07’, but in some ways the Queensland election in 2009 was a much tougher gig,” said Ms Bligh, referring to the long series of Peter Beattie Labor governments that preceded her. “A fifth term is a very rare thing in Australian politics – it took brilliance and focus and no small measure of genius from Neil.”
Labor leader Bill Shorten tweeted: “Neil made a tremendous contribution to Labor and the 2007 election victory, for which we will always be grateful.”
Mr Lawrence turned against Labor’s resources super tax in 2010, creating the successful “Keep Mining Strong” campaign for the mining industry. He said he was personally against the policy. But last year he and pollster Tony Mitchelmore helped Labor’s Jay Weatherill to an unlikely victory in the South Australian election. Mr Lawrence later fulfilled a bet that he would tattoo his buttocks with the time of victory. “It’s that kind of larrikin humour that counts for a lot when you are in a high-stakes, intense election campaign,” Ms Bligh said.
Mr Lawrence’s many corporate credits include last year’s successful “Feels Like Home” campaign for Qantas, and positioning and M&A campaigns for companies such as Wesfarmers, AGL and BHP Billiton.
“It is a dark day for the industry,” said former Qantas marketing chief Tim McColl Jones. “You don’t have many people that come along and create the work Neil has been involved with over his lifetime.”
Mr Lawrence’s agency Lawrence Creative Strategy is part-owned by STW, of which he was executive creative director. Tanya Jones, managing director of Lawrence Creative Strategy, said: “My thoughts are with Neil’s family right now. He was a man of great integrity and brilliant strategically and creatively, with enormous passion for many important issues, most notably of late for recognition of Indigenous Australians in our constitution and serious poker machine reform. He was a great friend and amazing mentor. He will be deeply, deeply missed.”
KaChing! – a documentary Mr Lawrence produced on the impact of the poker machine industry – was due to premiere on Wednesday night in Sydney. The event was due to go ahead in celebration of Mr Lawrence.
Communications consultant John Connolly, who worked with Mr Lawrence over 20 years, said: “He was known for his inquiring mind and the broad remit of his interests.”
OBITUARY; Ad world mourns Kevin07 mastermind
He was the man who put Kevin Rudd on his Kevin07 pedestal. And, in a sense, Neil Lawrence — adman, documentary maker, creative thinker and hired campaigner against Labor’s mining tax — helped take him down.
Today many in marketing, politics and social justice circles were mourning the loss of Lawrence, 60, arguably the most influential man in Australian advertising, who died of a suspected heart attack while on a surfing and diving trip to the Maldives.
Well-known and widely respected in the advertising business after making his name in the mid-90s as the executive creative director of ad agency Young & Rubicam, Lawrence shot to general prominence in 2007 as the architect of the most unforgettable political campaign slogan for a generation.
The Kevin07 campaign he developed for Labor was so successful it almost committed the cardinal marketing sin of overpromising, not unlike the “It’s Time” slogan that propelled Gough Whitlam to power and helped inspire it.
Lawrence, who was born in Melbourne on February 21, 1955, attended Carey Baptist Grammar School, which numbered among its alumni John Elliott, Steve Vizard and Tim and Peter Costello. He later attended Melbourne University and studied social work, politics and psychology, which he would later apply to his advertising work with great success.
While some in advertising thought of Lawrence as an “old lefty”, he described his politics as being centre-left. He expertly pitched the “Keep mining strong” campaign that ultimately helped undo Labor’s resources super-profits tax, preserving the financial position of the members of the Minerals Council of Australia that were then his client, but in the process fatally damaging federal Labor’s electoral standing.
That didn’t prevent other Labor governments around the country from utilising his talents. Lawrence had helped Anna Bligh get elected as premier of Queensland. Last March he famously had the time 4.46 tattooed on his buttock after swearing he would do so while waiting to learn if South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill — for whom he developed the JAY4SA campaign — would be re-elected against the odds.
Lawrence’s sudden death prompted a flood of tributes last night from those who benefited from his political skills.
“This guy was a wonderful human being first and foremost. He was passionate to the core about progressive causes in which he believed,” Mr Rudd said. “He also had about him a creativity that was unique. I will always be indebted to him for his creativity in the 2007 election campaign, where he was one of the few who was truly at the core of that campaign.”
Mr Weatherill said he was “deeply shocked” at the news. “It is hard to imagine that someone that was so creative and dynamic and had so many wonderful projects ahead of him is no longer with us,” he said.
Bill Shorten said Lawrence’s death was “devastating”.
Lawrence maintained a lifelong interest in social-change campaigns, most recently including the campaign to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution. He also donated his time to promote gambling reforms with the Stop the Loss Coalition and worked on the Generation One campaign to create Aboriginal jobs.
Lifelong friend, fellow anti-gambling campaigner and World Vision Australia chief Tim Costello described Lawrence as “whimsical, creative, quite brilliant and very likeable”. “He felt about issues independently and strongly, and he had a moral seriousness about him,” Reverend Costello said. “He was really naturally curious. He had a very strong sense of social justice. He had an inborn intuition but he always married it to a vision for a better Australia.”
Imre Salusinszky, a former journalist at The Australian and now media director for NSW Premier Mike Baird, met Lawrence as a teenager at Melbourne University in 1973. “He was the most alive person I ever knew,” Mr Salusinszky said. “We were part of a very close circle of old friends and his loss will be permanent and devastating. I know he was famous and distinguished in his chosen profession but to me he will always be that enthusiastic, curly-haired 17-year-old, alive to every kind of experience and art. He was loving and kind and generous and close to all our hearts.”
Lawrence, who was a popular guest on ABC advertising program The Gruen Transfer, was called on to work for many of Australia’s blue-chip brands over a decades-long career in advertising. He co-founded creative agency Whybin Lawrence TBWA but later reinvented himself as the voice big business used when it needed to talk about ideas to the “everyman” as the principal of Lawrence Creative Strategy and executive creative director of listed marketing and communications group STW.
He was named Australian Marketer of the Year in 2007 on the back of Kevin07 but used his persuasive talents for BHP and Qantas, among other corporates at the big end of town. The airline appointed him to help it talk to customers during its painful restructure in 2011 and last year he created the “Feels like home” repositioning brand campaign that was one of its biggest ever.
Veteran ad man Tom Moult competed with Lawrence in the ad business for 25 years. “I got to know him very well. He was a live one, was Neil. When he was on form, there was no one who was as persuasive as he could be in a pitch.”
A talented photographer and bluegrass guitarist, Lawrence returned to an earlier art form, documentary making, in recent years. Last night, his latest production, Ka-Ching!, a co-production with the ABC about the poker machine industry, was unveiled at a private screening in Melbourne, ahead of a broader showing.
Lawrence, who took up and developed a love of surfing later in life, had travelled to the Maldives for a surfing and diving trip, part of his 60th birthday celebrations. It is understood he got into difficulties while diving and could not be resuscitated.
He is survived by his wife of more than 30 years, Caroline, son Tom and daughter Anna.
“He had a strong marriage and family relationships,” Reverend Costello said.
“That’s why it’s really a tragedy. He’s a huge loss.”
So much more than an adman
Late last week my good friend Neil Lawrence rang me as a client to make sure everything was locked down ahead of his long-awaited holiday that would combine two great joys — family and surfing.
Neil had a knack for bringing his passions together — most famously his desire for a change of government in 2007 with his formidable advertising creative skills.
More recently, he brought together this special talent with his longstanding commitment to bettering the lives of the First Australians through his work with the Recognise campaign to change Australia’s Constitution.
Neil was no “slacktivist” or armchair progressive. He believed passionately in using his skills in big campaigns that could leave enduring benefits for the whole country. He backed change — sometimes imperfect change — so long as it was progress.
His passion for the plight of First Australians grew from his early experiences as a young social worker in Melbourne, working directly with members of the Stolen Generations. This was long before his stellar career in advertising, but it never left him.
Neil loathed unfairness. He despaired that there was no countervailing force against the might of vested interests such as the poker machine lobby. But, again, rather than tweet about it, he teamed up with his good friend Sue Cato to launch the “Stop the Loss” campaign, a broad coalition of church and anti-pokies campaigners focused on the destructive impact on families of problem gambling.
Sadly, last night was the Melbourne preview of his latest salvo against the blight of pokies.
Ka-Ching is a documentary that reveals the sinister science that makes poker machines so addictive and exposes the political influence of the pokies lobby.
I was privileged to see an advance copy and it is vintage Lawrence. Sophisticated, intelligent campaigning about a hideous social injustice with cut-through like an industrial laser. It did him proud.
Neil brought immense conviction to political advertising; a sadly rare commodity. He loathed the overuse of focus groups. Like any good creative, he fought for the integrity of his ideas and despaired at what he called the reductive nature of modern political research: how a complete concept could be picked apart until it had lost all meaning.
He despised over-complicated, retail-style negative advertising and preferred to deliver a punch using the voices of real people rather than “scary” sound effects.
He championed strategy over tactics and knew the value of the entire message. He was uncompromising on this and paid for it by being dumped from the ALP ad account in 2009, after such a pivotal role in delivering the victory of 2007, the first in 14 years.
Despite that, his achievement stands: everyone knows who created Kevin07. Neil used to joke that we are what we eat and that’s why he only ate dinosaurs. But he was no dinosaur. He looked forward and always to the good.
He was the inaugural chairman of The Centenary Institute Medical Research Foundation affiliated to Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital.
Four years ago, the institute launched what may be his greatest legacy, the Lawrence Creative Prize, to promote medical research and a domestic culture of scientific excellence. That represents the essence of the man: passion, pursuit of excellence, giving and an unshakable belief that creativity and “seemingly crazy ideas” are indispensable to achieve great things.
Neil’s great vision and prodigious strategic flair will be sorely missed.
But among those who knew him, his generosity, his hatred of injustice and his phenomenal drive to do something about it will be missed even more.
Vale Neil Lawrence.
Tim Gartrell is the joint campaign director for Recognise and was national secretary of the ALP from 2003-08. The Lawrence family has asked for donations to go the Lawrence Creative Prize, created in his honour for his longstanding role and contribution to the Centenary Institute since 2006. www.centenary.org.au/support-us/lawrence-creative-prize
The Age, The SMH
Kevin 07 mastermind dies
Ad world in shock – Lawrence found unconscious on surfing holiday
Neil Lawrence, the man who coined the slogan “Kevin 07” for Kevin Rudd’s successful election campaign in 2007, has been killed while on a surfing holiday with his son in the Maldives.
The 61-year-old was diving on the island nation in the Indian ocean on Tuesday afternoon when he surfaced unconscious. He could not be resuscitated.
The advertising and political community is in shock after the news emerged on Wednesday that the fit and healthy father of two had passed away.
His latest film, Kaching!, investigating the poker machine industry in Australia, was due to premiere in Melbourne on Wednesday night.
Lawrence was regarded as one of the best ad-men in Australia who became a popular panelist on the ABC TV show Gruen Nation.
He humbly described himself as a “photographer, filmmaker, cook and dog walker”, but his Kevin 07 campaign was credited with vaulting Labor into office after 11 years in opposition, through the nation’s first truly digital election campaign.
“That campaign was not just a slogan,” said colleague and close friend Tony Mitchelmore. “No one will ever reach that high water mark again”.
“Everything he did was high-profile, heavy duty stuff, but he made it fun, there was no cliches.”
Mitchelmore, who had dinner with Lawrence on Friday evening, said he was an incredibly smart, warm and human person.
Lawrence channelled his creative flair into many of the nation’s most recognisable advertising campaigns, including the multimillion-dollar “keep mining strong” package – which dogged the Rudd and Gillard government attempts to introduce a mining tax – and the repositioning of the Qantas brand, with its biggest ever advertising spend, after mass redundancies in 2014.
Using his expertise he volunteered his services as an advocate for the constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians and for closing the socio-economic gap for Indigenous Australians.
In state politics, Lawrence was behind the successful campaigns of former Queensland premier Anna Bligh and current South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill.
He famously fulfilled a promise to Weatherill, made at 4.46pm on the eve of the South Australian election, that he would have that time tattooed on himself if Labor won.
Corporate heavyweights have described Lawrence as a rare entity in the advertising world, a man capable of both strategy and creativity, who understood dense corporate and political issues.
After graduating from Melbourne University with degrees in politics, social work and psychology, Lawrence began work with Aboriginal youth affairs, a passion that would continue throughout his career.
He moved from documentary-making to advertising decades ago before returning to his first passion to investigate the life of US artist Paulus Berensohn and the poker machine industry.
The Daily Telegraph
Neil Lawrence dead: Kevin07 mastermind dies on surfing trip
TOP political and corporate figures have paid tribute to one of the giants of Australian advertising, Neil Lawrence, after his sudden death.
Mr Lawrence, the architect of Kevin Rudd’s successful Kevin07 campaign for the prime ministership, died suddenly late on Tuesday while on a surfing holiday in the Maldives with his son Tom.
It is understood Lawrence, 60, was on a diving trip at the time, with the most likely cause of death suspected to be a heart attack or stroke.
Lawrence is survived by his wife Caroline and children Anna and Tom, both in their 20s.
His death sent shockwaves through the country’s corporate, political and media fraternity. Former prime minister Kevin Rudd said from New York last night that he was “stunned and deeply saddened” by the news: “This guy was a wonderful human being first and foremost. I will always be indebted to him for his creativity in the 2007 election campaign where he was one of the few who was truly at the core of that campaign.”
Mr Lawrence’s Kevin07 campaign is widely credited with being one of the key driving forces of that contest, winning the election over Australia’s second longest-serving PM, John Howard.
Mr Lawrence was also responsible for two other successful state election campaigns. Last year he helped South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill win what was widely regarded as an unwinnable election.
Ms Bligh said last night: “It’s the most awful, awful news. Neil was one of the most vital, healthy, lively 60-year-olds I’ve ever met. It is hard to believe someone as active and loved so much as Neil is gone.”
In his decades-long career, Mr Lawrence represented some of the country’s top companies, with his recent “Feels Like Home” campaign for Qantas among the most prominent of his career. The campaign is credited with helping revive the company’s corporate fortunes after a long period of decline.
Late yesterday, Qantas boss Alan Joyce expressed his “deep, deep sadness” at the news.
“Neil is one of the best storytellers this country has ever produced. He had an incredible understanding of human nature and the Australian mindset,” he said.
Many of Mr Lawrence’s closest friends were too distraught to talk at any length. Prominent Sydney spin doctor Sue Cato said Lawrence was the country’s greatest creative, and “the go-to guy for any campaign”.
Lawrence famously led a campaign for the Minerals Council of Australia against the former Labor government’s Resources Super Profits Tax, surprising many given he had helped Mr Rudd to power.
Recently he had devoted more and more time to passion projects, most notably, the “Recognise” campaign to provide recognition in the constitution for Aboriginal people in the Constitution.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News
Neil Lawrence: Kevin 07 advertising campaign mastermind dies aged 60
Neil Lawrence, the advertising creative behind the Kevin 07 election campaign, dies while on holiday in the Maldives.
The advertising creative behind the Kevin 07 election campaign, Neil Lawrence, has died suddenly while on holiday in the Maldives.
Mr Lawrence, 60, was reportedly on a surfing holiday there when he passed away from unknown causes.
He was the founder of Lawrence Creative and was known for his advertising work for the Australian Labor Party.
Kevin Rudd described Mr Lawrence’s death as terrible news.
“Our hearts go out to Caroline, Anna and Tom. I am stunned and deeply saddened by news of Neil’s death,” he said in a statement.
“This guy was a wonderful human being first and foremost. He was passionate to the core about progressive causes in which he believed.
“He also had about him a creativity that was unique.
“I will always be indebted to him for his creativity in the 2007 election campaign where he was one of the few who was truly at the core of that campaign.
“Neil Lawrence will be remembered as a truly good man.”
Mr Rudd’s adviser Lachlan Harris said Mr Lawrence was the mastermind behind the successful 2007 Kevin 07 campaign.
“He was a very, very high level political strategist as well, so he made all of the ads but he did much more than just make the ads, he really helped shape the voice and the brand of the whole campaign,” Mr Harris said.
“The term Kevin 07 came from Neil as well.
“You really can’t underestimate how important he was in giving that campaign that magic, youthful, human sort of touch that people remember. Neil was the driving force behind that magic.”
Griffith University political analyst Dr Paul Williams said Kevin 07 revolutionised how Australian politicians campaigned.
“Kevin 07 is usually regarded as the first genuine social media campaign, it was a completely new way of talking to the public because social media was in its infancy,” he said.
“Politicians just weren’t using social media before that, but Kevin 07 changed the approach to everything.”
Mr Harris said Mr Lawrence was the preeminent political ad maker of our time.
“It is a very, very sad day, he was also an incredibly nice, humble man, quick with a smile,” he said.
“And just a really, really top bloke so it really is a very, very sad day for Neil’s family and for all his friends.”
Mr Lawrence was responsible for other high-profile Labor campaigns – including Anna Bligh’s 2009 Queensland state election campaign, and Jay Weatherill’s Let’s keep building South Australia 2014 state election campaign.
Lawrence Creative was also behind the successful campaign against the mining tax, and the Recognise brand, which lobbied for acknowledgement of Indigenous Australians in the constitution.
Mr Lawrence was the executive producer of the documentary Ka-Ching! The Rise and Rise of the Pokies, which was scheduled to air on ABC in 2015.
Mr Lawrence is survived by his wife, Caroline, his son, Tom and daughter Anna.
Neil Lawrence, ad man behind Kevin 07 campaign, dies on surfing trip
Lawrence, whose famous ad helped Labor return to power in 2007, also worked on high-profile campaigns for clients such as Qantas
The advertising genius behind Labor’s wildly successful Kevin 07 election advertising campaign Neil Lawrence, 61, has died on a surfing holiday in the Maldives.
Tributes from the corporate, advertising and media world were pouring in for Lawrence, who was described as the nicest man in advertising because of his genial personality.
Friend Dee Madigan, the executive creative director of Campaign Edge, told Guardian Australia: “Neil was simply the best political creative in Australia. Bar none. And a top bloke as well.”
As well as being on top of his chosen industry, Lawrence was a regular media commentator, appearing as a guest on ABC shows including Gruen Nation and Q&A.
Among his high-profile advertising work was the campaign against the mining tax for the Minerals Council of Australia “Keep Mining Strong”.
The council posted a statement on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon:
“We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Neil Lawrence: a man of integrity and talent, and above all, a good and decent person.”
The leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten, said on Twitter the news was devastating. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends, including all in Labor that worked with him.”
Labor strategist Bruce Hawker: “Sad to hear Neil Lawrence, the creative talent behind the Kevin 07 campaign, has died. He captured the moment. Gone far too soon.”
The national secretary of the ALP George Wright said the party was shocked and saddened by the news of Lawrence’s passing.
“Working with then ALP National Secretary and Campaign Director, Tim Gartrell, Neil and his team played a pivotal role in the Party’s successful and historic 2007 Kevin ‘07 federal election campaign,” Wright said.
“All of our thoughts are with Neil’s family and friends at this very, very sad time.”
More recently, Lawrence’s company Lawrence Creative was responsible for the “Qantas feels like home” brand campaign. He also assisted Qantas with its corporate image during an industrial dispute and a major restructure.
Among the achievements he was proud of were the election of two Labor leaders after he created strong and successful advertising campaigns for them.
He is widely credited with helping to elect Rudd as Labor prime minister after 11 years of Coalition government with the first truly digital election campaign.
He also helped the campaign in 2009 which led to the election of the first directly elected female premier, Anna Bligh in Queensland.
Lawrence was also responsible for the Generation One announcement which had six million television viewers watching An Address to the Nation about Aboriginal employment.
Lawrence’s latest passion – a social justice film about the poker machine industry Kaching! – is set to screen on ABC TV after a limited cinema release.
Business Insider Australia
Neil Lawrence, the Australian ‘madman’ behind Kevin 07 and the Qantas ‘Feels like home’ campaigns, has died
Neil Lawrence, one of the finest advertising minds in Australia, has died of an apparent heart attack while on a surfing holiday in the Maldives. He was 60.
The local “madman” produced some of the country’s most effective advertising creatives. Neil was founder of Lawrence Creative Strategy, and executive creative director of STW, Australia’s largest communications group.
Lawrence was the strategic and creative mind behind the ALP’s ‘Kevin 07′ campaign, which won him Australian marketer of the year in 2007, although that brilliance was turned against Labor three years later when he produced the “Keep Mining Strong” against the resources super profits tax for the Minerals Council of Australia and the follow up “This is our Story” campaign. They contributed in part to Rudd’s demise.
He also helped Anna Bligh become Australia’s first elected female president in 2009 with a TV campaign that demolished rival Lawrence Springborg. The ad featured US president Barack Obama, UK PM Gordon Brown and Kevin Rudd talking about the GFC “crisis” before cutting to Springborg saying “It’s not like the Depression… it’s not even a recession” before ending with the tagline “He doesn’t have a clue”. It’s widely credited with changing the election result.
Most recently Lawrence created the new Qantas “feels like home” campaign having advised the airline on its media strategy during the 2011 industrial fight that led to the mass grounding of the fleet.
Wesfarmers, AGL, and BHP Billiton were among the many bluechip clients he worked with, as well as social causes such as the Recognise campaign for constitutional recognition for indigenous people.
He was also part of the South Australian premier Jay Weatherill unexpected 2013 election win and as a result, had 4:46 tattooed on his behind last year – a bet he made with Weatherill before the polls closed, which was believed to be a reference to a Biblical passage about working miracles.
Lawrence is survived by his wife Caroline, and children Tom and Anna.
STW Group CEO Michael Connaghan said he was “incredibly saddened” by the news.
Labor leader Bill Shorten paid tribute to Lawrence, saying “Neil made a tremendous contribution to Labor and the 2007 election victory, for which we will always be grateful”.
News of the death of Neil Lawrence is devastating. Our thoughts are with his family and friends, including all in Labor that worked with him
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) July 15, 2015
The Australian Financial Review
Five of Neil Lawrence’s best advertisements
From helping catapult former prime minister Kevin Rudd into office, to orchestrating the advertisement that contributed to his downfall – advertising executive Neil Lawrence will be remembered as one of Australia’s creative geniuses.
Here are five of the best commercials from Lawrence, who in a diving accident while on holiday in the Maldives this week.
2007 federal election campaign
Kevin Rudd stormed into office, returning Labor to government after more than a decade in opposition.
Who could forget the t-shirts emblazoned with the words Kevin ’07, evoking Gough Whitlam’s similar feat 35 years earlier?
It was also regarded as the first digital election campaign, incorporating social media platforms YouTube, Facebook and MySpace.
“Combined with the 24-hour news cycle, the volume of work was larger and turn-around times shorter than any election campaign before it,” Lawrence wrote on his website.
Axe the tax
Three years after Kevin ’07, Rudds popularity was nosediving. One of the contributing elements to the downfall was introducing the so-called mining tax, and the big miners knew who to turn to ensure their message was heard by all Australians.
Lawrence designed the “This is Our Story” campaign, which focused on mining employees and highlighted our important the industry was to Australia’s economy.
“It brings in billions of dollars of export income. It provides work for over 750,000 Australians. It supports communities all across the country, today and into the future,” Lawrence wrote on his website.
“And what better way to tell this story than through the people whose hard work and support make it happen.
“The unscripted executions rely on authenticity, credibility and a compelling narrative that tells an interesting and little known aspect of the mining story in the words of a real Australian.”
2014 South Australian state election
Despite the success of the anti-mining tax campaign, the Australian Labor Party didn’t appear to hold a grudge.
In 2014 Lawrence helped South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill win an election that was widely considered unwinnable.
“The Liberals presented a united front under new leader Steven Marshall, had a well-funded campaign, and were expected to complete the ‘all blue’ picture for the Liberal Party,” Lawrence wrote on his website.
“Labor settled early on a theme of ‘Let’s keep building South Australia’, and drew a stark contrast between Labor’s policy to keep investing in, and growing South Australia, and the Liberals’ hands-off approach to growth and threats of cuts to public services.
“Advertising helped undermine Steven’s credibility and made people question whether he had the ability to run a State facing the challenges South Australia was as a result of General Motors Holden’s imminent closure.”
Former Qantas marketing chief Tim McColl Jones described Lawrence’s death as a dark day for the industry”.
Lawrence was behind the airline’s multimillion-dollar “Feels Like Home” campaign, introduced in 2014.
It was designed around the emotional response of seeing Qantas’ red tail before returning on a flight home.
The campaign was Qantas’ biggest since it’s “You’re the Reason We Fly” marketing push in 2012. It came after the airline has been in the news for cutting 5000 jobs, failing to obtain a government bailout and posting a bottom line loss of $2.8 billion.
Launched in 2010, the Generation One movement aimed to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians closer together, ending the disparity between the two groups.
It wasn’t a normal advertising campaign. As Lawrence wrote on his website: “this message needed to be heard, we needed the attention of the nation”.
“We spoke to media companies all around Australia. We wanted two minutes of free air time – not for an ad, but for an address to the nation.
“With donated space from newspaper and online media companies, we announced an address. Through Twitter we monitored the buzz and the speculation. Then on a Sunday night, for the first time ever, a non-political address was broadcast across all free-to-air channels. Maddy, a 13-year-old Aboriginal girl spoke to 6 million Australians.”
And Australians paid attention. According to Lawrence’s website, the campaign’s website recorded 2.4 million hits in the first 24 hours.
Man behind ‘Kevin 07’ dies after holiday dive
Neil Lawrence, the man who coined the slogan “Kevin 07” for Kevin Rudd’s successful election campaign in 2007, has died while on a surfing holiday with his son in the Maldives.
The 60-year-old was diving off the coast of the island nation in the Indian ocean on Tuesday afternoon when he surfaced unconscious. He could not be resuscitated.
Advertising and political circles have been in shock since the news emerged that the healthy father of two had passed away. Labor leader Bill Shorten has called the death “devastating”.
In recent years, Mr Lawrence turned his attention to documentary making. His latest film, Kaching!, an investigation into the poker machine industry in Australia, was due to premiere in Melbourne on Wednesday.
Mr Lawrence was regarded as one of the best ad men in Australia. He became a popular panelist on ABC TV’s Gruen Nation.
He humbly described himself as a “photographer, filmmaker, cook and dog walker”, but his Kevin 07 campaign was credited with vaulting Labor into office after 11 years in opposition, courtesy of the nation’s first truly digital election campaign.
“That campaign was not just a slogan,” said colleague and close friend Tony Mitchelmore. “No-one will ever reach that high water mark again.”
“Everything he did was high profile, heavy duty stuff, but he made it fun and human, there were no cliches. It was all about the tale of simplicity as the other side of complexity, it was spot on.”