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Here’s the strategy that made Croatia forget about football for two full days - and find missing people instead

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Campaign: Gone, but not forgotten. Check out the campaign here.

In Croatia, the Homeland War ravaged the early nineties. One of the repercussions of the military conflict was the disappearance of thousands of people. This particular aspect of the war became the unlikely focal point of a native advertising campaign with a unique purpose.


  • Brand: Associations of families and missing persons during the Homeland War
  • Publisher: 24sata - 24sata is the biggest media brand in Croatia and publishes domestic and international news on print, web and social media

The Content 

Brand and publisher developed a content idea based on telling documentary stories about the people missing during the Homeland War. The stories were told both in text and video and published in print, web, on YouTube, Facebook and other social networks. Every week during the campaign the story of one missing person was published. Each story was told by the loved ones left behind and included some of the last photos taken of the missing person. In each story, family members and friends put into words what it actually feels like when someone you love disappears and how those left behind hoped to find some form of closure in the future.

Distribution and Promotion 

The campaign team steadily distributed the stories of the missing on all social media channels and combined the efforts with two so-called “mega covers”. Here the distribution was maximized with the guiding principle being “One day, all channels, the same message”. The aim was to grab the attention of the whole nation. That day, all eyes were on the painful memory of the missing: YouTube videos, Facebook posts, articles on 24sata web page, ads in the print edition of the newspaper and the rest of the social media. Gone, But Not Forgotten also adopted guerrilla marketing tactics in the biggest Croatian cities. Public places were marked with black silhouettes - the symbol of the missing - and prints of the missing to further emphasize the campaign. Associations of families of detained and missing persons during the Homeland War organized a press conference where the highest-ranking politicians of present Croatia were in attendance and gave their support to the campaign.


Perhaps most importantly Gone, But Not Forgotten (2018) wanted to raise the public’s awareness of the people that went missing during the Homeland War. The campaign aimed to achieve the following metrics: 1.100.000 page views 1.000.000 video views

The Results 

3.000.000 video views 3.200.000 page views In this campaign, all the views and all the attention generated by the content served a higher purpose: That families of citizens missing during the Homeland War would be able to learn more about the fates of their loved ones.

Take Note

For this campaign, it was a unique strategic manoeuvre that made the difference.

  • Despite the Homeland War’s role in the modern history of Croatia, the campaign team found that the subject of missing people from the war period was generally overshadowed by current news stories. These included flashy gossip headlines and the football World Cup which took place during the campaign.
  • To create awareness Gone, But Not Forgotten needed to make itself heard above all the other stories that were capturing the public’s imagination.
  • However, this wasn’t really possible, at least not on a constant basis. So what the campaign team did was identify two days where the campaign would ramp up its presence to 100 or - in their own words - megacover the missing. By simultaneously activating every platform and content format the campaign achieved a multiplier effect that pushed the subject to the forefront of Croatia’s attention.
  • This included a special print version of the 24sata dedicated to the Gone, But Not Forgotten, articles on the 24sata website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and in the 24sata newsletter. The campaign also partnered with numerous influencers from all walks of the Croatian society - political figures, athletes, artists and retired generals - all of whom posted pictures of the symbollic black silhouette on their social media profiles.
  • All of the attention and traffic generated led to the same place: A microsite called the digital Weeping Wall of the Gone that gathered all personal photographs, videos and stories published so far about the people missing in the Homeland War. The site included a call-to-action that asked the audience to report information about those missing.
  • The chosen dates for the two mega covers were August 30 2018 - the International Day of Missing Persons - and November 17 2018 - the anniversary of the fall of Vukovar, one of many Croatian cities destroyed by the Homeland War.
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