Campaigns for societal change and why are they important?

06.07.2019., Supetar, trajektna luka - Prosvjed za besplatni trajekt za djecu s poteskocama u razvoju. 

Photo: Miranda Cikotic/PIXSELL

“Something really important”, “The golden ribbon – 7 marathons in 7 days”, “1100 kilometers for 1100 therapies”, “Kaftrio – a breath of life”. All of these are the names of the campaigns which, during the last two years,  received CTA communication’s professional support in order to correct social injustices and to push our community of 4.1 million people towards betterment. While helping our friends, we would often get questions like: “Why are you doing this along with all your other jobs?”, “Was it even worth the effort?” and “Shouldn’t someone else handle that?”. This is the summa summarum of the beginning of an endless argument, but we will still touch upon it here.

Common values that bind and unite us

“Other jobs” are meant for communication agencies like ours, because of our values and our team’s desire to use our years of knowledge to offer help to those that need it most. In short, the latter is our common moral principle and life stance that unites us with our friends when we’re supporting them in various humanitarian campaigns. We live in a society that’s quick to turn their heads from problems that don’t affect them directly. “Move along, there’s nothing to see here”, a typical saying in Croatia and most of the world. We commend the exceptional people who think and act differently. That pulse of the nation is felt even by those in charge, and our community is having an increasing number of individuals, even whole groups of people, that suffer injustice and abandonment. Which leads us to the answer to the original question “shouldn’t someone else handle that?”. They can fix it if they want to, but it was demonstrated that they won’t unless they’re “encouraged” in some way. When the first humans started living in caves and lighting fires, the first interests appeared, and they have been constantly growing to this day. In such a world, the most vulnerable are the ones to suffer, commonly due to inaction. You can surely recognize this in your own community.

The fight for a free ferry to reach much needed therapies on land

Let’s recall 2019, when the Association of parents of children with developmental disabilities “Brač buds”. They had to start the media campaign “Something really important” to direct the public’s attention to the fact that the government has been ignoring their request, free ferry transport for children with disabilities, for ten years. Only when they got a hold of the media did they get a strong support on social media, subsequently they organized a large protest at the Supetar ferry port and finally their appeals were approved. This was an issue of extreme importance because Croatia’s islands don’t have the adequate and necessary therapies that children need up to four times a week, and private therapists seldom come to islands because of the expenses. One of the parents usually doesn’t work, and the transport costs alone can be over 3,500 kuna a month. At the same time, their peers have free ferry rides to schools and universities, which just makes the whole situation even more absurd. Over the span of 7 months during 2019, social media and traditional media have echoed with the messages and testimonies of the families. In the end they had such an effect that the law was changed so that other groups of people with disabilities got their rights too.

Reaching noble goals with challenging sports

In the spring of 2021, passionate mountaineers and adventurists Ranko Dragičević and Danijel Lončar started the humanitarian action “1100 kilometers for 1100 therapies” with the goal of raising money for the therapies for children with disabilities from the Association “Brač buds”. The Association had problems getting money for the therapies for their members, and they needed help. Ranko and Danijel were also the ones who didn’t wait for “someone else to fix the problem”, they rather got down to conquering one of the most challenging hiking trails, “Via Adriatica”, from cape Kamenjak in Istria to cape Oštra on the South of Croatia. Equipped with PR and social media campaigns, it took them 49 days to complete their journey, and they managed to raise 169,800 kuna for the Association.

The tireless mountaineers found their inspiration in the ultramarathoner Kristijan Sindik from Split, who had, with his team, just a couple of months earlier, completed seven incredible marathons in seven days. The marathons spanned from Split, Croatia to Tivat, Montenegro. During the media covered, 295 kilometer long route of the campaign “The golden ribbon – 7 marathons in 7 days”, a total of 212,664 kuna was raised for the department of pediatric oncology at KBC Split. The funds were used to buy hospital machines and equipment which helps the youngest patients. Those who were interested in donating could buy kilometers, and in that way partake in the extraordinary sport-humanitarian action. Once again, another serious problem of the most vulnerable groups has been taken care of by the members of our society who didn’t “wait for someone else to take care of it”.

A success that saves lives

Our work constantly brings us into contact with a wide variety of people, and our deepest respect and admiration goes to the “regular” and brave individuals. Some we already mentioned above, but last summer we got the chance to meet the members of the Croatian Association of people with cystic fibrosis. The campaign “Kaftrio – a breath of life”, which we started and tenaciously conducted for months, finally achieved success which literally means that lives are being saved.

Cystic fibrosis is a multisystemic disease which people most commonly succumb to before their 30th birthday, but the issue changed with the appearance of Kaftrio, Orkambi and Kalydeco, three expensive medicines that enable a more peaceful, better quality and longer life. The only things that kept the Association’s members from getting the medicines were the month-long rejections from the Croatian Health Insurance Fund (HZZO) to put the medicines on the approved list. Moreover, the Association took matters into their own hands, and they used various communication tactics to successfully inform the public about their situation. They increased the appeal’s reach, and most importantly, they got support for “the thing that should be normal and available”. A similar comment was passed around when the public was introduced to the challenges of the “Brač buds” Association. The government has, to the great luck of everyone involved, yielded, and HZZO put the medicines on the approved list of essential medicines. Still, it needs to be said that a whole campaign was needed to push them in the right direction.

Setting the standards of behaviour towards our most vulnerable members of society

What did we learn from all of this? Why are campaigns for societal change important? First of all, they show us the direction in which we, as a society, should go. They identify which human rights are being violated or endangered, and they connect us with the most vulnerable groups of our society, whose stories we might have never even heard if it weren’t for those campaigns. We simply don’t have them in our closest surroundings, which doesn’t mean that we can’t help them. It could be said that they set standards for future behaviour, or they serve as a warning to the ones who make large scale decisions that they can’t do everything like they imagined. If we want to give a final description, they can be a correction of the authorities, and of society’s overall morals as well. 

We are aware that the world doesn’t change overnight, it doesn’t even change over a lifetime. But it’s corrected one step at a time, so that the ones who come after us don’t have to fight the same battles. So, what do we say to the individuals who asked us was it all worth the effort? Instead of asking pointless questions, it would be better that they think about what we could do to improve our society together. In the end, a quote from a popular movie says: “What we do in life, echoes in eternity”.