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Why 303 MullenLowe Created a Kids Book About Paramedics



LBB’s Delmar Terblanche speaks to the team behind this most unusual and heartfelt of campaigns

Why 303 MullenLowe Created a Kids Book About Paramedics

A few weeks ago, 303 Mullenlowe unveiled a different kind of campaign.

This was no TVC, or radio jingle, or digital banner, or set of OOH billboards. This was a book.

A children’s book, to be precise. One locally-made in Perth, and packed with 20 true stories of the adventures and heartbreaks experienced by St John paramedics.

The stories were told by local author Deb Fitzpatrick, with 13 Western Australia illustrators stepping in to fill these tales with colour.

The campaign is a testament to the wild lives of some of the bravest and hardiest souls in Perth, intended to make their hard-edged careers accessible for children. To that end, online readings (including one by Anthony, the Blue Wiggle) have helped spread the book’s good word.

To find out why and how 303 Mullenlowe decided to enter the world of children’s publishing (and with such unusual subject matter, we spoke to strategy director Smiljka Dimitrijevic; ECD Richard Berney; senior business director Holly Creasey; and business director Eloise Cribb. 

Together, they told us a story of local love and timeless bravery, and how they managed to sell it to children.

LBB> What was the initial client brief from St John?

Smiljka> The original brief was to tap into the pride of the people of St John – be it staff members sitting in the corporate office, volunteers teaching our communities First Aid, or the paramedics on the road – and help them see that no matter where they are in the state or what they do, every one of them plays an important part in what St John calls ‘the chain of survival’. Lose one, and the chain becomes weaker – and that applies as much to those who work in the call centre as those administering CPR.

That said, the project took two years to complete and the more we researched and refined, the more challenges we addressed. Like giving paramedics a tool to be able to finally talk about the work they do with their children and grandchildren. And celebrating the softer, human side of St John that so rarely gets reported in the press. Plus inspiring the next generation of volunteers by showing how simple acts of kindness can have a profound influence on the lives of others.

LBB> How did you arrive at the decision to collaborate with Deb Fitzpatrick and the 13 local illustrators? 

Richard> We wanted this book to be precious. An artifact for Western Australia, that would reflect our love for the place and people in which we live. 

And so it became necessary that the stories were compiled by a local author who shared that same deep love and knowledge of this place. Deb Fitzpatrick is a local legend, who is well known in our community as a passionate storyteller who writes with zeal and transcends age. At the same time, we were compiling such diverse stories, that we decided only a range of local illustrators could reflect the spectrum of Western Australian culture. It was a big endeavour - but it was so fun!

LBB> Can you tell us a bit about the aesthetic guidelines set for the book? 

Richard> ‘Life’ and ‘place’. The aesthetic guidelines were ruled by the stories, of course, and they were commonly adventurous, but not bound by genre. 

Which is what I mean by ‘life’. There is a thirst for life that runs through the many stories, and became an aesthetic thread. Life is finite, and the threat of death pulls what matters most into sharp focus. But in this book, life prevails with the help of St John, and so these are good news stories. Stories that are meant to appeal to everyone with a beating pulse. Children and parents, in particular. This is a book that we wanted to inspire children to consider volunteering as an adventurous life pursuit.

The illustrators were not instructed to conform to a style. Instead, they were chosen by their existing reputation and asked to interpret each tale in their own way. 

As for ‘place’, it was important that this felt like a book created by, and for, Western Australia. The typographic cover is actually the shape of Western Australia, and there are recognisable locations, fauna, and even folk throughout.

LBB> What lessons were you most seeking to impart through the book and the overall campaign?

Smiljka> The main lesson we wanted to get across was one of kindness and the importance of helping others. This book is about showing kids and adults alike that sometimes putting others’ needs above our own can feel incredibly rewarding and we should all do more of it. That’s the bigger picture.

From a St John brand perspective, we wanted to show the humanity of its people, the impact they have on our lives and also to inspire the members of our community to become ‘St Johnners’.

Finally, from an internal perspective, which is where this project began, we hope that the people of St John will read these stories and feel seen, heard and proud.

LBB> And what lessons did you learn from doing it?

Holly> So many lessons, all them around the complexities of creating a book and a commercial book at that. Being an advertising agency, a book isn’t something we had ever created in the past, so it was a swift learning curve into ISBN codes and publishing rights. 

The other two lessons were clinical accuracy and how important this is when sharing stories of first aid, and ensuring patient privacy and dignity was at the centre of every story.

LBB> Do you have any figures available to share from the campaign's success? Readership/viewership etc. 

Holly> The book is newly available to buy so we don’t yet have sales figures. However, in addition to online and social promotion, over 1,000 copies have been gifted to St John volunteers, 400 copies of the book have also been donated under a partnership with the School of Special Needs at PCH, PCH Foundation and Radio Lollipop for the children of Perth Children’s Hospital.

LBB> What was it like working with Staff and Volunteers

Eloise> The staff and volunteers of St John WA were the lifeblood of this project. Land of Legends was inspired by the work they do, and we would’ve been lost without their input throughout the project. 

From the outset, there was great engagement from the staff and volunteers cohort, with over 80 submitting stories to be featured within the book. Those that were selected graciously offered their time and passion to bring their stories to life. Every interaction we had, and Deb our author had, cemented the humanity of everyone who works for St John WA. 

Seeing their heartfelt reactions to receiving the first copies of the book made us realise how meaningful this project truly was to those who work with St John. 

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303 MullenLowe, Wed, 07 Dec 2022 05:01:06 GMT