Missing Persons Advocacy Network switches marketing emphasis

Not-for-profit launches new campaign aimed at raising awareness of the friends and family who are impacted by missing persons

Shot from the MPAN campaign
Shot from the MPAN campaign

Switching the emphasis from missing Australians to the families affected by their disappearance has taken centre stage in the latest campaign effort from the Missing Persons Advocacy network (MPAN).

Founder and CEO, Loren O’Keeffe, told CMO the group had spent the first six years of its existence striving to humanise missing persons. Too often, missing persons had been viewed through the lens of the police and criminal activity, when in fact only 1 per cent are the result of a crime.

About six months ago, O’Keeffe decided the Australian public was ready to hear a broader narrative about the impact of missing persons on wider society and briefed agency, WhiteGrey, to produce an emotive above-the-line campaign. The result, ‘Missed birthdays’, specifically addresses ‘ambiguous loss’, a specific form of grief suffered by more than 250,000 Australians affected by long-term missing people.

The campaign was produced in collaboration with production company, Finch, and comprises two short films featuring friends and family of two long-term missing individuals: Sydney man, Paul Rushworth; and Hobart-based Naz Samson Woldemichael. The videos focus on friends and family sending messages on the day of each missing persons’ birthday. They’re being showcased online and on TV and supported by social activity.

“There’s a really big opportunity for the public to learn what it’s like, and to empathise,” O’Keeffe said. She pointed out 38,000 people disappear every year, but a much greater number are impacted by it.

“This is an unseen and unheard group of people, living with this unique trauma,” she said. “Australians are ready to see the other side of the issue.” 

MPAN, which was launched by O’Keeffe eight years ago, currently supports 60 families impacted by missing persons. O’Keeffe started the not-for-profit eight years ago after her own brother went missing.

“Our whole ambition is to reframe the narrative from missing persons as a police task to being seen as a community issue,” she explained. All of the unfunded organisation’s work aims to create interest and engagement in order to support the initiative.

“It’s about growing more awareness, thereby building the funds to continue to support what we do.”

The latest campaign, which debuted 4 November, is yet another example of the highly creative work MPAN is pushing for in order to raise the issue and boost donations. Last year, the group launched a campaign in partnership with Invisible Friends using facial recognition via Facebook in order to try and identify missing persons via social media profiles. The tool searched the background of each friend and family’s social photos in the hopes of identifying and locating these missing people.

“That was a high-tech, innovative campaign that garnered interest from across a range of new audiences,” O’Keeffe commented.  

Last year, MPAN also launched ‘The Unmissables’ campaign, which saw artistic impressions of missing people printed across coffee cups.

With its latest executions, MPAN will take advantage of existing relationships with channels 7, 9, 10, Prime and WIN to feature a 30-second version TVCs in rotation. The organisation also gets about 1600 ads on average per month on WIN.

For O’Keeffe, success comes from knowing MPAN is reaching a big chunk of the population, and she cited a reach of 9-10 million per campaign. The group does 1-2 campaigns per year. Having built her profile with the media as commentator on the issue off missing persons and a strong social media follower are also helping MPAN get the message out there.

As O’Keeffe herself noted, MPAN is the only local organisation supporting this cause. A further factor helping the work locally is association with UK missing person organisation, Missing People. The UK organisation boasts of a huge support base, 100 staff, a royal patron and celebrity ambassadors.

Off the back of the UK organisation’s work with Deliveroo, showcasing the faces and details of missing persons on their food delivery backpacks, O’Keeffe said it will be looking to bring a similar initiative to Australia from December.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

 

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