Puma Energy

Creating a community
during crisis

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Award winning campaign
Community Engagement
Issues and Crisis Management


Puma Energy is a national fuel retailer with a growing footprint along the Queensland coast.

On 30 March, 2017, Cyclone Debbie made landfall in north Queensland, causing extensive property damage, isolating communities and cutting off power.

Several national consumer brands received public criticism by immediately “cashing in” on the natural disaster by raising prices for essential goods.

Puma Energy asked Cole Lawson to use our local insight to provide real support to those impacted by the disaster.

Our Approach

We used publicly available storm and outage data and conducted grassroots research to find out which areas were most affected and what help was needed.

Power outages were a serious, ongoing problem around Bowen – where Puma Energy had a site – we had the idea to utilise diesel-powered generators to keep the power on in a collaboration between Puma Energy and the community.

This was achieved by giving away up to $50,000 of diesel fuel to residents, who simply had to attend Puma Energy Bowen with a jerrycan. Residents were then encouraged to help their neighbours, friends and family keep the lights on via diesel generators.

Our publicity-shy client asked us to avoid paid advertising and self-generated PR. So, we spread the word via:

1. Customers
2. Social media sharing
3. Influencers including the mayor and emergency services
4. Puma staff

Results and Impact

This simple grassroots campaign had the following results:

Residents from Bowen and surrounds filled jerrycans with fuel to run generators for their homes, businesses and neighbours, keeping fridges cold and lights on for days after the cyclone.
litres of fuel was given to the community, lasting until power was restored.

The initiative went viral, with some residents’ posts being shared thousands of times on social media.

Puma Energy became a local legend in Bowen, with fuel volume and retail sales increasing in Bowen significantly in the year after the disaster.

This initiative made global news within Puma Energy as a case study for how to help local communities during disasters and Cole Lawson’s work was commended by the global CEO.