Australian Attorney-General's Department and Icon Agency - Public Service

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Name of Organization / Company: Australian Attorney-General's Department and Icon Agency
Category: C01 - C12 Award for Innovation in Communications / PR > C01. Award for Innovation in Community Relations or Public Service Communications

Entry Title: ‘Now’s the Time’ – Australian National Firearms Amnesty 2017


In late 2014, a gunman entered the Lindt Café in Sydney and took hostages using an illegally obtained shotgun. The siege resulted in the deaths of three people. Determined to take action, Australian Governments agreed to fund a public information campaign and National Firearms Amnesty. The Amnesty ran from July to September 2017, aiming to improve public safety by reducing unregistered firearms and firearm-related articles in Australian communities. During the amnesty, people could hand in unregistered firearms and related articles without fear of prosecution. Funded by the Commonwealth, the campaign was coordinated by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department. Icon Agency was appointed to design and produce the campaign.

At the time of the amnesty, there was an estimated 260,000 illicit firearms in Australia. They included ‘grey market’ firearms—those not surrendered following 1996 reforms—and illicit ‘black market’ firearms used by criminals. The 2017 amnesty targeted 'grey market' firearms. Qualitative and quantitative research revealed that the inertia was the primary reason for not previously handing in unregistered firearms.

We used behaviour change PR methodology to cut through people’s inertia, combining rational messaging with a sense of urgency to create the campaign theme: ‘Now’s the time’.

Target audiences:
• Anyone possessing an unregistered firearm or related item
• General community
• Firearms groups
• Rural communities.
Campaign objectives:
• Encourage participation
• Raise awareness and understanding
• Drive target audience to the website
• Partner with Australian states, territories, peak firearms industry bodies, and public health and community groups to encourage surrender of unregistered firearms.

Ultimate goal:
• Reduce the number of unregistered firearms in Australia.

What makes this campaign notable is the extent of inter-agency and inter-government cooperation. Dozens of organisations worked together, including:
• Federal, State and Territory government ministers and departments
• State and Territory police
• Crime Stoppers Australia
• Peak firearms groups
• Firearms dealers
• Rural/regional associations
• Public health organisations
• Councils and community groups.

Tactical highlights
To support the multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional approach, Icon created a broad creative platform that would resonate with the widest-possible audience. The PR toolkit included:
• Paid advertising
• PR and events
• Official website and partner websites
• Newsletters
• Social media.

Additional tactics:
• Involvement of senior ministers and Prime Minister in PR launches
• Staged PR updates to build momentum
• Grass-roots events
• Geo-targeted paid advertising
• Digital communications.

Our collaborative, multi-jurisdictional approach to social marketing led to the surrender of over 50,000 firearms – or 20% of all estimated illegal firearms nationally. The success of the amnesty has resulted in a safer and more secure Australia.

Statement by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull:
“Australia's National Firearms Amnesty has led to more than 50,000 firearms being handed in across Australia. This is an overwhelming response and represents a significant reduction in the number of unregistered firearms in the Australian community… As a result of this successful amnesty, there are now 50,000 fewer firearms on the streets.”

The ‘Now’s the Time’ campaign was highly successful, resulting in the surrender of almost one in five unregistered Australian firearms. The campaign featured large-scale collaboration between Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, licensed firearms dealers, Crime Stoppers Australia, firearms industry groups (including shooting club and associations), community-based organisations, public health advocates, and significant numbers of the general public.

In a movement that garnered worldwide attention, Australians united behind the need to uphold and continue to strengthen Australia’s internationally recognised, gold standard firearms framework.

Results highlights:
• Over 50,000 firearms surrendered
• 32,998,696 Australians reached
• 550 articles
• 15m Facebook and Twitter impressions
• 47% CTR for launch Google Ad (Adwords)
• Mobile ads achieved 1.4m impressions
• 79 events reaching 255,000 people
• 51,808 unique page views
• Significant increase in web traffic