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Why 303 Mullenlowe and Mediahub’s Adventurous Western Australian Women Are ‘the Real Deal’



The Queens on the Edge campaign captured the imagination of WA locals and travellers alike. LBB’s Delmar Terblanche spoke to the minds behind it.

Why 303 Mullenlowe and Mediahub’s Adventurous Western Australian Women Are ‘the Real Deal’

This July, Western Australians were treated to an adventure on their coastline. Four fun-loving women set off across the South West Edge in a van, and, over twelve days, explored all the strange and wonderful things it has to offer.

Bernie, Sandy, Roz, and Lisa are a model, a costumer, an actress, and an artist respectively. They’re hardly a bland group of travellers. But their particular style of quirky fun is emblematic of the South West Edge - a region known for its colorful characters and eccentric communities. 

303 Mullenlowe Perth worked with Mediahub to create a campaign centred around these grande dames and their unique adventure, following them through a series of episodic videos, a radio announcer checking in daily, and constant social updates. The idea was to create an image of travel across the region which was equal parts entertaining and real - and with leading ladies like this, they couldn’t help but succeed.

303 MullenLowe planning director, Smiljka Dimitrijevic, executive creative director Richard Berney, and Mediahub media director Kylie Macey spoke with LBB’s Delmar Terblanche about how they designed this dazzlingly unique campaign.

LBB> What was the initial client brief? What impression did they want to create about their region?

Smiljka> The client wanted The South West Edge to become famous. To be an iconic adventure that people would add to their bucket list alongside places like the Great Ocean Road, Nullabor Plain and Route 66. 

The client was keen for us to lean into the quintessential West Coast humour to achieve that fame. The tone was to be irreverent, playful. We looked to the Kiwis for inspiration – they do humour so well!

LBB> The release describes the campaign as focusing on how “the region is filled with amazingly quirky characters”. How did you decide to bring this human-centric version of tourism to life?

Smiljka> Tourism as a category is filled with airbrushed, Instagrammable photos of young people having a great time in crystal clear waters against clear blue skies. The pictures could be taken anywhere, if it wasn’t for the headline telling us where. 

We knew we were a small fish in a big, crowded pond so needed a way to not only attract attention, but also differentiate ourselves. 

Road trips, by their very nature, are loose ideas of what a journey could look like that never pan out quite as planned, because the sprinkling of delights and surprises along the way take you in unexpected directions. And while it is about the destination, it’s more about the journey and what happens on that journey. 

South West WA has a reputation for interesting characters. Anyone who goes recognises that things are a little different down there, with many locals bringing their own passions to life. 

The locals are what give this region its very specific vibe, so focusing on them not only felt like the best way to be true to the tourism offer, it also happened to be a great category differentiator.

LBB> You mention research which shows “an increasing number of women in their 60s and 70s are setting off in their Winnebagos”. What are the numbers? And what are the preferred activities and places to go?

Smiljka> In terms of statistics, we know that women are responsible for 85% of all travel decisions. They do the research, they set the direction. So, when we set about speaking with various product and service providers in different towns across the state, we also found a common theme prevailed, showing the increase in women who were setting off on their own and with friends. They were generally older, keen to reignite their love of life and sense of adventure. 

We met a few of them on our travels of the South West and their own experiences appeared to corroborate the anecdotal evidence – they had compromised enough, they wanted to explore what life had to offer on their own terms. Given the uncertainty surrounding flights and border closures, campervans and motorhomes became their transport of choice.

LBB> The project was also co-funded by the Australian Government’s Recovery for Regional Tourism Program - tell us a bit about this initiative?

Smiljka>  On 27 September 2020, the Australian Government announced a $50 million Recovery for Regional Tourism Fund. This funding was created to support nine tourism regions which are heavily reliant on international tourism like the South West. 

Australia’s South West [the client] secured federal funding and set to work alongside Austrade and partners to deliver five strategic initiatives in order to increase interstate visitation and develop capacity within the region. 

One of the five initiatives was a new interstate marketing campaign to raise awareness of and travel along The South West Edge drive route. In other words, our Queens on The Edge campaign!

LBB> Through what “chance meetings” did you find the four Queens? They come from such fascinating backgrounds - artist, model, actress, costume designer - tell us a bit about their stories. Are they all South West Edge locals?

Richard> Early on, the creatives went on the road trip to get into the ‘groove’ of this brief. The deeper they drove en route along The South West Edge, the more locals they met. Every local directed us to another one with crazier stories, and so it went… until we reached the mecca of alternate living in Western Australia, Balingup. Three of the women were from there, and they were old friends who’d lived in this hippy-like community since the seventies. These ladies are the real deal.

LBB> The whole creative has a slightly steampunk aesthetic - from the logo recalling the Sex Pistols to the four ladies relaxing by the river in sem-Victorian dress. What was the thinking behind this?

Richard> The aesthetic was guided by the ladies themselves. They were smart, independent, and rebellious – they set their own tone, said whatever they wanted, and guided the general themes of the trip. The agency purposefully did not attend the road trip, so that it wasn’t ‘affected’. Once all the footage was finally sorted and edited, their theme of rebellion emerged – and then we got to have fun!

LBB> This is obviously a big production - what are the first steps in coordinating a shoot like this?

Richard>  This is not a production style for the faint-hearted. This was anti-agency in many ways. Because it’s unscripted, the agency had to relinquish most of the creative control it is used to. We began with a blue-sky meeting with the production company, and asked them how we could truly capture a ‘real road trip’ without it falling into the tedious tourism tropes.

Three rules emerged.

  • Give casting the time. 
  • Give the shoot time. Make it long, so the women can unfurl.
  • Don’t come. The agency should stay home, and let the documentary actually be a documentary.

Interestingly, this was not a large budget. So, to achieve longer casting and a longer shoot – we used a skeleton crew and removed both client and agency presence.

LBB> This campaign’s visual style clearly owes a lot to prestige non-fiction programming like Top Gear - how do you know what kind of crew you need to achieve that look?

Richard> Quite simply, the crew needed to reflect the ladies. Independent mavericks. Big production would ruin it. 

We needed brilliant technicians, who could achieve high production ‘from the hip’ without many hands to help. The crew was as small as six, and each person was experienced in nuanced documentary film and photography. 

LBB> Tell us a bit about what Dominic Pearce and Sam Harris brought to the production as co-directors?

Richard> This whole project would have been a shadow without early engagement with Sam Harris. Sam is one of Australia’s leading documentary photographers, and his local knowledge, style, and network was a major driver in the production’s approach. He is an aesthete and celebrates naturalism with a patience unfamiliar to commercial operators. Dom on the other hand was our maverick. A director comfortable in the chaos, totally rebellious, and was brought up by another epic matriarch, his grandmother. Dom was a comedic touch, with the technical know-how for light documentary. Sam could see truth and poetry – together they stayed just out of the way enough to let the Queens shine.

LBB> What were the highlights and challenges  of the shoot? Do elaborate.

Richard> The challenges: These women are older.  We needed to let them do things in their own time. 

The highlights: Same. These women are older. In fact, they’re too old to care what the agency’s agenda is, they don’t give a hoot. Which meant they ‘drank the marrow out of life’ as Sandy put it. The highlights all made the cut. 

LBB> What was the thinking behind Joel Creasy’s involvement on radio? 

Kylie> Road tripping along the coastline and escaping from the norms of everyday life - The Queens on the Edge embody what it means to embrace true freedom. Whilst we all aspire to be as free and liberated as the Queens, sometimes life holds us back. Here lies an opportunity to give Aussies the nudge they need to live on the edge.  

Comedy icon, WA bred, confident and quirky, Nova had the perfect voice to introduce the Queens on the Edge campaign to the Melbourne market.  Unapologetically himself, living in Melbourne and the host of the Drive program, Joel embodies the Queens’ energy! He is fierce, fun, and fabulous. 

Partnering with Nova’s Joel Creasy allowed us to bring the personality of the Queens to the forefront and create broader appeal to the campaign. 

LBB> Talk us through the episodic distribution - how did you ensure continued interest over the 12 days of the queens’ roadtrip? Do elaborate on your social campaign strategies.

Kylie> The campaign followed the Queens as they embarked on their 12-day road trip adventure, with a series of daily social posts and radio catch ups between the Queens and Joel where they discussed their plans for the day. 

As the Queens’ 12-day journey ended, the campaign was amplified by the release of the Queens’ Episodes across social media channels, aimed to inspire wanderlust in the viewers following along. 

Following the Queens as they experienced their road trip along The South West Edge brought a degree of authenticity to this campaign. It gave a platform for the Queens to discuss and showcase every amazing place they visited and the unique experiences they encountered along the way. 

LBB> What benchmarks have been set for similar narrative campaigns in the future? What are some of the campaign numbers that you can share on its performance?

Kylie> Our 12-day social content series overdelivered by 20% in terms of post engagement.  The Queens episode videos overall delivered 1.96 million video plays reaching 761,413 Victorians who are intending to travel. 

LBB> If audiences take one thing away from their time with the four queens - what do you hope it will be?

Kylie> The Queens are unapologetically themselves; this is one of the most heart-warming content series I’ve seen in a while and The South West Edge road trip is one that everyone should get the chance to experience.

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303 MullenLowe, Wed, 14 Sep 2022 03:27:14 GMT