Herald Sun brings two of Australians’ passions together in COVID native ad campaign

By Lisa Harries

News Corp Australia

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


Australians have two key obsessions: sports and real estate. And the pandemic did little to reduce our appetite for either. As we went into lockdown in 2020, the questions of how to keep the footy season kicking and keep the real estate industry moving dominated the headlines.

In Victoria specifically, as the state endured harsh lockdowns, real estate agents maneuvered to continue running their businesses as best as possible under the restrictions. At a time when we were instructed to #StayHome, for many, where home “is” and “could be” was becoming a complex situation.

For the Real Estate Industry of Victoria, the main purpose at this time was clear: The timing was opportune to demonstrate its role to the industry and its consumers. As Victorians kept abreast of  COVID-19 updates, the REIV’s partnership with the Herald Sun to deliver its message was pivotal.

The Victorian government put a moratorium on rental evictions and a stop to property inspections and auctions. This brought the Victorian property market to a screeching halt. People were unable to find appropriate housing for their families. People who had worked hard to save and build an asset were unable to sell or lease to tide them over during these difficult times.

A market in distress

The inability to buy/sell/lease property created enormous emotional and financial distress in the community. The government had not considered the impact of a complete lockdown of the property market on ordinary Victorians. While REIV is a representative body for real estate agents, this was time to create awareness of the important role a real estate agent plays in representing their clients: the ordinary Victorians.

Agents were under tremendous pressure from tenants and owners. Regular and quick changes to restriction levels created uncertainty and stress. They needed the support and motivation of the REIV to keep them and their customers updated on the waves of changes of how to conduct their business under COVID-safe rules.

At the same time, REIV wanted to drive enrollment into its Agents’ Representative course at a time when many people were rethinking their career choices. 

For the Herald Sun campaign, the REIV teamed up with the AFL Coaches Association.
For the Herald Sun campaign, the REIV teamed up with the AFL Coaches Association.

Teaming up with the AFL Coaches Association was the lifeline REIV needed. The Association embodies the passion Victorians share for the sport and provided an entertaining and informative approach to the industry. By teaming up with the AFL Coaches Association, REIV wanted to spark excitement for real estate and used the theme Best You Can Be to inspire excellence.  

Launching the campaign

The native campaign was the first of its kind that the REIV did with the Herald Sun. Its success depended not only on the content being in tune with the dynamics of the pandemic but also leveraging the digital technology of News Connect to ensure maximum engagement by targeting specific audiences across the News Corp Australia network.

Furthermore, the digital and print advertising campaigns REIV ran concurrently added gravitas to the impact that the industry has on the Victorian people and its economy.

The native content held significant engagement with average dwell times ranging from eight to 11 minutes. Given that two to four minutes is considered a good result, this was exceptional. The high engagement shown by readers with the native content executions reflects the states’ passion for Aussie Rules (AFL) and the property market.

Ongoing success

Like many industries, our practices have shifted to include the pandemic learnings and new ways of working as part of our ongoing agenda. REIV is continuing its partnership with The AFL Coaches Association as part of its strategy toward building a high-performance culture.

Our partnership with REIV has strengthened as we work together in the capacity of being more than a media partner. The Best You Can Be campaign inspired both the audience it was intended to reach as well as the teams that worked on the project.  It is a great body of work that was brought to fruition under extraordinary circumstances.

And as we return to normal, there is optimism for the months ahead and enthusiasm to deliver the next iteration of Best You Can Be.

About Lisa Harries

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