Bears to School

Sharing the pride and spirit that is carried in our history


To share Australia’s Great War history with a new generation of young children and to raise awareness and funds for military and veterans' organisations during the Centenary of Anzac and beyond.

The Context

The Bears to School project was conceived as a community-focussed initiative during the Centenary of Anzac. Our goal was not only to preserve Australia’s wartime heritage and present it to a new generation in schools nationwide, but also to engage society at large through ex-service organisations, military charities, community groups and businesses.

Project link
  • Education
  • Awareness
  • Military History
  • Veterans Support
How We Made It Happen

The BrandNet communications team conceptualised, planned and implemented a comprehensive marketing and communications strategy to engage the general public and specific stakeholders and to encourage them to donate bears to Australian primary schools. The communications plan encompassed a range of media, including digital, print, television and online platforms. Highlights include the creation of a CGI animated community service announcement and online platform that facilitated and tracked bear donations in real time.

Many prominent Australians endorsed Bears to School, including the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, state government ministers, Chief of Defence and the Chiefs of Navy, Army and Air Force. A long list of corporate supporters includes News Corp Australia, Ramsay Health Care, ASC, SAAB Australia, Marand, Downer Defence Services, Cubic Defence Australia, Medibank and CAE Inc. Bears to School was especially privileged to have Invictus Team Australia 2018 join the campaign as sports ambassadors during the Sydney Invictus Games. We were deeply honoured to have Australia’s oldest living recipient of the Victoria Cross, Keith Payne, join Bears to School as the project’s National Ambassador. Key community stakeholders included the Returned & Services League of Australia, the National Servicemen’s Association, and hundreds of local Legacy Clubs and RSL Sub Branches.

Each of the ten collectible bears, created especially for the Centenary of Anzac, reflects a different part of Australian service during WWI. The bears provide an interactive and age-appropriate educational teaching aid for use in learning activities with young children, and were accompanied by learning resources and story cards that elaborated on their wartime experience.

The Outcome

To date, more than 900 bears have been donated to over 600 schools across Australia. These bears will be in classrooms for years to come, teaching successive generations about the experiences of Australians during WWI, and ensuring that their service and sacrifice is commemorated. The Bears to School project showcased BrandNet’s versatility in engaging communities are grassroots level by making use of a range of coordinated marketing and communications streams.

“There is much in war we cannot and should not share with our young, but there is more that we can and must share. Ours is a proud history of service and it is their understanding of our military heritage that will carry forward the best of who we are and can be.”

— Keith Payne, VC, Bears to School National Ambassador

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