Itaka Foundation Places Missing Persons Information On Back Of Airport Welcome Card

We have said it before and we’ll say it again: getting people to listen to your message in the world of advertising is hard. Getting people to listen when you’re a charity with a limited budget can be even harder. Guerrilla marketing has found a solid niche in charity marketing, as a way for charities to make a potential big impact, with a minimal amount of cost and man hours. The Itaka Foundation’s Welcome Signs campaign, from Isobar Poland is a great example of this style of charity marketing.

The Campaign

It seems pretty significant that 17,000 people go missing every year in Poland. But, when you consider that more than 38.5 million people call the country home, that 17,000 seems like a drop in a very loud and busy ocean. For the families of these people, putting signs out asking for information and working with Poland’s only missing person NGO Itaka, is all they can do. So, to spread that message a little more Itake headed to one of Poland’s major airports, where reunions happened every day, to help get people thinking about how they might feel if the person they were waiting for never showed up.

Itaka’s Smart Advertising History

The world of charitable companies is more competitive than you might think. The charities compete for two very important things: donations and attention. Itaka already proved with their The Toughest Challenge campaign that they know just how to encourage people’s donations, but how best to access someone’s attention? They decided to work on three simple concepts: smart context, powerful emotions and overall simplicity.

Contextually Appropriate

Certainly, the success of the Waiting Signs campaign hinged on its placement at some of Poland’s largest airports. The context of a guerrilla advertising campaign like this is always important, as it can change the mood and perspectives of the participants. By placing the signs where people were waiting, ensuring that bored individuals would spend time perusing them, and making them useful, by allowing participants to write on one side, we can see that Itaka and Isobar have really thought about the details of this campaign.

The Emotional Memory

In situations of higher emotion, our memories get better. It’s a result of the release of hormones into the brain, and Itaka have used it very much to their advantage. By providing people picking up someone from the airport with free welcome signs, with a missing person’s face printed on one side, they were able to access someone’s emotions at a particularly high point. As they picked up their partner, friend, parent or other loved one, they were consciously remembering the face of that missing person, whose family and friends are missing them too. This is emotionally very powerful, making it smart on the part of the charity and their advertising agency.

Simplicity Is Key

What we really love about the Waiting Signs campaign is that it is so simple. The concept of simply providing someone with the opportunity to remember a face, instead of pushing for awareness or even donations, makes this campaign ultimately memorable. There is nothing forcing participants, or viewers, to do anything beyond simply taking note, and remembering that not everyone has had their reunion.

Itaka Foundation Welcome Sign 2


Advertising Agency: Isobar Poland, Warsaw, Poland
Creative Director: Maciej Nowicki
Creatives: Wojciech Kowalik, Maciej Kozina
Designer: Maciej Listwan
Project management: Martyna Gołębiewska, Magdalena Długowolska, Krzysztof Szymczak
Production: Filip Gieleciński / Posterscope
PR: Katarzyna Szlendak
Additional credits: Tomasz Pisanko, Paweł Sitnicki