DEAL – East Arnhem Live

Case Study

Herd MSL worked with DEAL to boost awareness of the culture rich tourism destination that is East Arnhem during a time when travel was severely restricted.


It’s hard to find somewhere more remote than East Arnhem. Located at the north-east tip of the Northern Territory, Yolŋu are traditional owners of the land and practice the longest continuing traditional culture in the world. At the centre of Yolŋu culture is song, dance and connection to country. Over many decades, the region has produced some of Australia’s most important musicians.

Arts and culture are a huge driver for the tourist economy and heavily promoted by Developing East Arnhem Limited (DEAL), which supports domestic and international tourism to one of the most unique and beautiful destinations in Australia.

However, due to the region’s high-risk population East Arnhem was declared a biosecurity zone during the COVID-19 pandemic, with no travel in or out. Local artists were unable to perform. Tourism ground to a halt.

With limited resources to execute large campaigns, we needed a targeted approach that celebrated the region, engaged the community and inspired future travellers


Through our consultation with DEAL staff, stakeholders and visitors we uncovered a key insight: Travellers to East Arnhem are among the most interested and culturally aware tourists, with Indigenous art and culture a major drawcard.

Using our research into media habits during the pandemic, we took advantage of the trending popularity of musical streaming particularly through Facebook Live, this became our primary broadcast channel and the fact that “the weekend” still held particular resonance – people wanted to do something interesting, so Saturday night was important to reach East Coast audiences where most site traffic originated.

Over nine weeks, DEAL partnered with Yolŋu Radio to host concerts featuring local artists performing amidst stunning scenery. The concerts featured performances in local Aboriginal languages, as well as English. A traditional ceremonial dance was scheduled coinciding with National Reconciliation Week, and the series culminated with a performance by iconic band Yothu Yindi. The original plan was four concerts – however, overwhelming support meant five additional shows were added.

Local artist stories built authenticity and interest amongst mainstream media – including a feature with iconic band Yothu Yindi on the Today Show. Our staggered media approach maximised media interest in Indigenous issues, as the campaign coincided with National Reconciliation Week. Concerts were posted to the East Arnhem Land Facebook page every Saturday evening over nine weeks, which built a strong and loyal international following. By hosting these performances through Facebook Live, we were able to tap into online outlets such as The Guardian, NITV and Tourism NT to promote the series further.

During National Reconciliation Week, DEAL worked with Fed Square in Melbourne for a campaign encouraging people to visit the East Arnhem Land website and sign up to the mailing list by offering a free trip to East Arnhem Land to be redeemed in 2021. This involved promoting the concerts via a poster site and Fed Square online assets.


We achieved significant coverage across media nationally and drove strong traffic to East Arnhem social pages. Specifically, this included:

The concerts were highly viewed:

  • Average views of 44,560 (x4 the objective)
  • Engagement of 22,689
  • Estimated reach more than 1,336,981

The media coverage was extensive:

  • Media clips: 300
  • Reach >300 million

People engaged with East Arnhem socially:

  • Facebook likes increased 54% to 8,776
  • Instagram follows increased 33% to 5,743
  • Facebook post impressions YOY increased by 1013% (725,200)
  • Total unique post impressions for the same period of 568,100

The campaign set the scene for future tourism:

  • 1,642 unique leads were made to local tour operators
  • 45 email leads were received by DEAL
  • Email subscriptions increased 524% to 2,660
  • Interest from key markets of Melbourne, Sydney & Brisbane increased 224%, exceeding the goal of 30%, based on website traffic data


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Herd MSL

Herd MSL is an ANZ public relations and integrated communications agency that provides strategic counsel and creative thinking. We champion our clients’ interests through fearless and insightful campaigns that engage multiple perspectives and holistic thinking to build influence and deliver impact.

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