The use of the red and yellow swim-suited surf lifesaver as a marketing tool for everything from tourism to cereal, may quite possibly have become a stronger presence in Australians’ daily lives than the real beach patrol, but this awareness could do great things for Surf Life Saving Australia as they launch a new line of suncsreen.

Perhaps one of Australia’s most trusted and respected brands, Surf Life Saving Australia has been around over 100 years, but the move into the sunscreen market this month marks its first foray into consumer products.

Surf Life Saving Australia partnered with Cowan to work on the campaign, and explained their strategy in an exclusive case study for Marketing magazine…


The strategy was to build on the trusted brand of Surf Life Saving, which encapsulates a strong sense of fun, safety and heritage in Australian culture. Not over complicating the visual cues was crucial to the strategy.

Cowan implemented existing visual cues to reignite emotional connection with the brand. The product needed to embody the spirit of Surf Life Saving, and has been designed to look as if it has been part of the volunteer kit bag since 1907.


Cowan capitalised on a strong visual equity of the brand, the colours red and yellow. These iconic colours are found on various pieces of Surf Life Saving equipment, from boards to patrol caps, and are synonymous with safety for many Australians. The highly recognisable combination of colours, enable ease of navigation on the beach and in the water. It would therefore form the base of the design across the new sunscreen range to
deliver the same cut-through recognition in store.

The distribution strategy for the sunscreen has been aimed at independent pharmacies and Surf Life Saving clubs across the country to ensure grass roots support for the brand and build credentials in the more specialist skin protection arena.

Launch date:

December 2010


The aim is for a strong and positive growth in brand awareness through the launch of the new consumer product range and increased online presence.
Brett Williamson, CEO of Surf Life Saving Australia, said, “We want everyone visiting our beaches to keep safe in and out of the water this summer.
Surf Life Saving is considered the expert authority on surf safety and we are excited to be launching this sunscreen range which will give further protection for Australians when enjoying the outdoors.

Our sunscreen packaging speaks to the values of our brand – being trustworthy, positive and uniquely Australian. The design is straight forward and is instantly recognisable as Surf Life Saving.

“The range will also give Australians the opportunity to support our organisation with all proceeds from the product sold going back into programs which improve water safety in Australian communities.”