Cannes Lions



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Case Film
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‘Don’t Drink and Drown’ campaigns and messaging have run since 2004 to educate and inform young people in WA of the dangers that can arise from drinking around water.

Despite all of this effort… it was still happening and the stats were frightening:

• Alcohol was a contributing factor in 1/3 of all drowning deaths in young people from 2013-2018

• Young males are more than 4x more likely to be involved in a drowning incident than young females

Our brief was to reduce the cases of serious injury and death amongst this audience, through an awareness campaign aimed at changing dangerous attitudes and behaviour.

Our objective was to use their friends as a positive influence to stop them from choosing to go swimming whilst under the influence of alcohol.

Budget: AUS $120,000

State-wide integrated campaign including TVC, social, events, outdoor, and a wide range of promotional items.


We wanted to encourage young people to call out their mates when they’re mixing Alcohol x Water x Risky Behaviour by reducing the social stigma associated with speaking up.

Our strategy to achieve this goal was to give young people a ‘script’ for talking their mates out of danger.

To spread our message we created an unlikely voice of reason — Mermates.

Unlike mermaids (the mythical creatures who lure sailors towards danger), Mermates live in the real world and appear in everyday places, like suburban backyards, on fishing trips, and on the sandy shorelines of our glorious beaches. Here, they lure their mates away from danger and towards safety.

Each of the Mermates have humorous personas that ordinary guys can use to look out for their mates and call out their risky behaviour.


The Mermates design uses a nostalgic 'Sailor Jerry' tattoo illustration style with a youthful and modern twist. Complimented with a fluoro highlighter colour palette, irreverently informative graphics and copy lines these have cut-through when used in social, print and OOH.

The design exploration included an illustration session to create ‘meme-worthy’ content with the right mix of humour and impact. The final large-scale lock-up of the ‘Be a Mermate’ logo reimagines what a traditional mermaid pin-up tattoo design would look like as a ‘Mermate’, complete with snap-back cap and beer belly.

Alongside traditional collateral, a range of merch pieces were created for leavers 2019/20, including temporary tattoos, stickers, coasters and air fresheners to keep ‘Being a Mermate’ front of mind for those most at risk. These were handed out as prizes at pop-ups, activations around WA and in schools and are available to order from the Royal Life Saving WA website.


As of March 2020 the Mermates campaign has resulted in 24.4% increase in online followers (Facebook and Instagram), 77,000 engagements on social media and 299,000 views on YouTube.

At time of submitting this entry, data related to the number of alcohol-related accidents over the 2020/21 Summer is still yet to be formally published.

The campaign was instantly a hit with our target audience and verbal feedback received included:

“Such a great concept”

“I love the Mermate idea”

“Mermates is so cool”

“I saw the ads and found it was really funny”

And most importantly..

“I will be a Mermate”

Within paid social enviroments our content was so engaging that we doubled our objective of completed views and sentiment was very postive.

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