Essentially Cooly Campaign

This is the step by step, day by day process to create a campaign that rescued a community

On 9th August the QLD premier closed the border to NSW residents.

This majorly affected the twin towns of Coolangatta and Tweed Heads.

Tweed Heads went into lockdown (no one allowed to leave their homes, including no school, no work, no socialising).

Coolangatta which is dependant on Tweed for 60% of customers virtually thrown into a lockdown by default.

Meeting 19th August

A surfboard shop in town, Hammos, organised a meeting at the local surf club with the local MP Laura Gerber asked to attend.

I thought a handful of businesses might attend but was overwhelmed at the 120 + businesses that turned up

Heart break on the border

I had recently rung both state and federal MPs about the border as well as making a call to Canberra to speak with Australia's Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.

His chief of staff said she would pass my message along about the border but who would know?!

In the surf club that morning, businesses shared their frustrations, fears and lack of trust in the government. The key issues being:

No time frames for lock down

No emergency relief for affected businesses

40-60% of staff being stuck in NSW

Revenue in most venues down by 60-80%

No rental abatements

Lack of emotional support for small business

Over half the audience did not believe in mandating vaccine for entry into QLD

People disgusted that the government was saying "workers" were not essential

Outcomes from the meeting

The state MP said she would follow up with state government but seeing as she was in opposition said they don't have much leeway.

I raced home and called Queensland Tourism Board and asked what they were doing to promote this area - nothing they said. Try Destination Gold Coast. I made more calls and really the Aussie saying is "crickets.." which means silence.

I decided to do something about it myself based on what Steve Edgar, the Manager of the surf club had said, which was "we need to fill up the accommodation houses."

I went back later that day to discuss my crazy idea. Which was to make a commercial showcasing Coolangatta to the rest of the drive traffic that could get there and to woo them down.

Meeting with Steve 130pm

Steve and I met in his office at 130pm.

I remember sitting down feeling his anguish and pain and thinking we need to do something radical.

Once I suggested the commercial I could see his eyes light up and off we went. We needed some funds to pay a production company and I contacted Hammo to see if he knew anyone. He recommeded Shagga from Shaggadelic Productions.

It was a stroke of luck.

Shagga had been good friends with Joel Parkinson since school and knew most of the surfing greats in town. By the end of the day we had pitched the commerical, and had a production team on board to make it.

We were going to call it Essentially Cooly based on Jarod (the lawn mowing guy) words "The prime minister said "every worker is essential".

Off to work we went.

The Filming

Over two days I put together shots and scenes for Shagga. He also had great ideas. It was going to be an epic commercial.

I wanted something along the lines of the Lamb Commercial and we all agreed. Cheeky, fun and inviting.

On Sunday 22nd we met at Point Danger with a plan to shoot all day and make the ad by Tuesday.

It played out well.

Running around town over the previous few days I had secured a few business owners to be involved with the story and filming.

Sunday was fun.

So it was Shagga, Lachy, his girlfriend and me running around town getting grabs.

Monday was more of the same... and then I felt confident enough to call a meeting with Destination Gold Coast (the tourism promotions board for the Gold Coast).

The Meeting with Destination GC

I planned a kick arse pitch for Destination GC. They were after all meant to be representing all of the Gold Coast and Coolangatta were not on their current promotions.

We sat them down in a horse shoe table and had the local MP, the local councillor and the president of the Chamber of Commerce.

The pitch went well.

I was to the point and said this town needed tourists and it was a shame it took the local businesses to fund and come up with the ad but we just wanted their financial backing.

The Today Show

Over the next few days, I did many interviews on TV, radio and in the paper. As time went on, it became evident that I had become a spokesperson for small business in town.

One lead led me to the producers of The Today Show.

They said if our ad was ready by Monday 23rd August that they would run to air and do a live cross. You can not buy this advertising. Yes we said.

This is the interview that went up on Monday 23rd August on the Today Show. The official launch of our campaign.


The next few days

Lots of interviews!

Channel 7, 9, 10, ABC radio, all great and getting the news out about the ad.

Shagga and Lachy amazing during this time with promotions on instagram and FB. Pages we set up under Essentially Cooly and I also set up the website. Its around this time that we reach out to a lawyer to trade mark the name Essentially Cooly.

The Ad on TV

Destination GC were excellent in meeting our request to promote and more. A much better response than the Strand who I had asked to help with promotions as everything I had done was pro bono.

The TV commercial went like Sunday 5th September across all channels with great reach.

By Tuesday 7th September shop owners have reported an increase in customers but the race is far from over.

The GC Bulletin and TV Seven started a campaign called Care for Cooly, and I have been working with the reporters to give them businesses and details.

Triple M have been fantastic with their Kick start Cooly Campaign and will be doing another day down here this Friday. All in all a very successful campaign.

Moving forward 8th September

Moving forward the campaign needs funds. I have been doing this off my own bat. Steve at the surf club is at least paid and his club is getting great promo. I have asked The Strand but no reply.

I have reached out to Dick Smith and Gerry Harvey but no reply.

Tonight I am meeting with Di Farmer the minister for Small Business. Let's see if she can assist.

Business & Surf Greats, Rally Together to Save the Coolangatta.  The power of community and people saving businesses in Coolangatta.

This is the MR I wrote on 21st August.

The recent border lock down between bordering towns Coolangatta and Tweed have split not only families in half but business as well.

Last Thursday 120 buinesses met at the Coolangatta Surf Club to share their plight and brainstorm solutions. It was attended by local state MP Lauren Gerber (lib party) who agreed the pain of businesses need addressing by state government and needed support ASAP.

After the meeting two business people stayed on and decided to make an commercial to bring shoppers and customers back to town. After raising some funds they arranged a production film crew to make a short commercial. It is based on the theme that everyone is essential and that accommodation houses (whilst empty now) need to be filled.

They wanted to drive home that Coolangatta is open to Gold Coasters and businesses need customers NOW!

Sam Beau Patrick is the campaign organiser and says “The commercial is to promote Coolangatta and Kirra to the Gold Coast day stayers and SEQ to come and have a weekender and to highlight how ESSENTIAL everyone is in keeping the town of Coolangatta alive.”

Branded “Essentially Cooly”

Sam has been assisted by Steve Edgar, the GM of Coolangatta Surf Club and together the add is attracting media attention and politicians attention.

Local iconic surfing legends, Joel Parkingson, Mark Occilupo, Dean (Dingo) Morrison, Steph Gilmore, Mick Fanning and Magic Midget all featuring in the add and helping to promote.

The goal is to pump money and hope back into a very struggling and forgotten community.

The current Greater Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce has found:

  • 87% of businesses have been impacted a lot or a great deal
  • 46% of staff cant get to work
  • 80% of businesses experiencing a down turn of 30% or more
  • 16,000 workers are not allowed to cross the border

WE would love to share with Australia.

Ref #1   Greater Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce