Helping save Victorian lives through raising awareness of Thunderstorm Asthma


Millions of Australians now know if they’re at increased risk of Thunderstorm Asthma thanks to Upstride’s PR campaign


In November 2016, the world’s largest and most catastrophic Epidemic Thunderstorm Asthma event took place in Melbourne.


It triggered asthma attacks and respiratory problems on a scale never experienced before, with a record number of calls for an ambulance and more than 12,000 presentations to Victorian hospitals. The deaths of 10 Victorians were associated with this event.


Over 2018/19, Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services engaged Upstride to create and implement a PR campaign targeting those at greatest risk, should a similar Thunderstorm Asthma event occur.


Upstride’s campaign strategy centred on generating mass awareness among Victorians with (or at-risk of) asthma or hay fever. It further targeted Victorians of Asian, South East Asian, Indian and Indian sub-continent backgrounds, who were overrepresented in emergency departments during the 2016 event.


Our media launch, start of Thunderstorm Asthma season media event and multicultural media briefing helped the campaign achieve a cumulative audience reach of more than 10 million.


Our multicultural community event activations at Diwali and the World Rice Festival/African Music and Culture Festival reached more than 50,000 event attendees – with thousands lining up for photos and videos with our campaign mascot, ‘Puffy’ the giant asthma puffer.