Politicians and advertising executives have paid tribute to Neil Lawrence, the advertising creative behind the Kevin07 digital campaign, who died this week on holiday in The Maldives.
Mr Lawrence, 60, a featured panellist on the ABC’s Gruen Nation and Gruen Transfer, resurfaced unconscious from a dive off the coast of one of the islands in the group. He was unable to be revived.
The Kevin07 campaign was a driving force in putting Kevin Rudd in The Lodge and the Labor Party into government in Australia in 2007.
He conducted a number of other successful campaigns for the Labor Party including in Queensland, which saw the election of the Anna Bligh government, and in South Australia with the election of the government led by Jay Weatherill.
In the SA election, Mr Lawrence reprised his Kevin07 message with a Jay4SA , which clicked with younger voters and pushed Mr Weatherill over the line in a surprise win.
In a statement released last night, Labor national secretary George Wright said the ALP was shocked and saddened by Mr Lawrence’s passing.
“Neil and his team played a pivotal role in the party’s successful and historic 2007 Kevin 07 federal election campaign,” he said.
Mr Rudd said he and his wife Therese were deeply saddened to hear of Mr Lawrence’s death.
He said: “This guy was a wonderful human being first and foremost. He was passionate to the core about progressive causes in which he believed. He also had about him a creativity that was unique. I will always be indebted to him for his creativity in the 2007 election campaign where he was one of the few who was truly at the core of that campaign.”
Mr Weatherill and Ms Bligh shared similar sentiments, with both expressing shock at his death and admiration for his talent.
Mr Lawrence was named Australian Marketer of the Year following the Kevin07 campaign, but has worked on many major corporate campaigns during an extensive advertising career, including the “Feels like home” campaign for Qantas.
For Fairfax Media, Mr Lawrence created the “Independent. Always” slogan.
He was a co-founder of creative agency Whybin Lawrence TBWA, was the principal of Lawrence Creative Strategy and later executive creative director of marketing and communications group STW.
Mr Lawrence also was well known for his volunteer work in campaigns on social issues and for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Former Ogilvy and Mather executive chairman Tom Moult paid tribute to his friend in The Australian. “When he was on form, there was no one who was as persuasive as he could be in a pitch,” he said.
Mr Lawrence had a long-time interest in film-making and co-produced a documentary with the ABC that was launched at a private screening in Melbourne last night. The film, Kaching! examines the poker machine industry in Australia.
He is survived by his wife, Caroline, son Tom and daughter Anna.
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