Thanks to the Upletimo se/Knit yourself in campaign of the Association and Center OZANA and the Štrikeraj cafe, Zagreb got its first big woolen Christmas tree made of over 300 woolen squares last Advent, and the homeless of Zagreb got a handful of warm woolen blankets to keep them warm all winter. What is now an integral part of many photographs of Zagreb’s Christmas idyll, in September last year seemed like an extremely ambitious project.
About the client
Association “OZANA” was founded in 1991 to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities and their families, and in autumn 2013 they opened Štrikeraj cafe as a gathering place for persons and children with disabilities, but also for all those who love knitting and crocheting. Since the first meeting with the members of the Association and Štrikeraj café, accompanied by our CTA Komunikacije team thanks to the competition “Communication support for socially useful programs of associations” of the Office for Non-Governmental Organizations of the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the Croatian Public Relations Association (HUOJ), human kindness, together with the campaign has managed to travel cross the borders of our country.
The Association and Center OZANA and Štrikeraj café decided to put knitting and crocheting skills of their users’, persons and children with disabilities, to good use within a humanitarian campaign to help those who do not have a warm shelter in the cold winter. In addition to making warm woolen blankets for the homeless in Zagreb in coordination with their umbrella association “Fajter” and creation of a visual symbol of the campaign, a large woolen Christmas tree of love and togetherness, the goals of the campaign were to increase media coverage of the “Upletimo se” campaign, as well as raising awareness of OZANA Center and Štrikeraj café and the therapeutic effects of knitting and crocheting. The campaign ran from October 16 to December 7, 2019.
The first step was to create a recognizable visual identity for the campaign and the hashtag #upletimose as a common denominator of all social media posts. Via Facebook and Instagram we connected with the existing followers, invited them to join the most beautiful Zagreb Christmas story with their woolen squares and, by posting photos of their work, we invited them to become part of the OZANA Association and Štrikeraj café community.
Talking to the members of the OZANA Association, we noticed there was a lot of people who had learned the skill of knitting or crocheting in their youth, but eventually abandoned the activity. One of them is Croatian rower and Olympian Valent Sinković, who became the campaign ambassador and renewed the knowledge he had acquired long time ago for the Zagreb homeless.
Through six author videos, warm human stories were brought closer to the public while including therapeutic effects of crochet and knitting on people, such as recovery from multiple sclerosis, recreation during rehabilitation, or calming and charity activities. Noticing the lack of online education in Croatian, two educational videos were made with basic knitting and crocheting techniques, and a video with knitting techniques for children in primary school so that all age groups and speakers of Croatian language could easily make their own woolen square, from the comfort of their own home.
The campaign was opened by a press conference attended by the Ombudsman for Persons with Disabilities Anka Slonjšak, Head of the Department for Planning and Comprehensive Protection of Persons with Disabilities of the City of Zagreb Marija Mustač, Croatian rower and gold Olympian Valent Sinković, coordinator of healthy lifestyles activities at the Institute of Public Health “Dr. Andrija Štampar ”Marija Škes and the president of the OZANA Association Vjera Lukavečki. Knitting and crocheting workshops were periodically held for citizens in Zagreb libraries, as well as workshops and forums “Evening of Needles and Wool” in the Botaničar bar where citizens could meet users of the OZANA Center, learn to knit and crochet, and get the opportunity to become part of humanitarian actions by donating a woolen square for a blanket that would warm a homeless person from Zagreb. One Saturday morning in Zagreb, a red woolen thread appeared in the center of the city, set up from the statue of Nikola Tesla across Cvjetni trg to Gajeva ulica. In addition to it, during Saturday rush hour users and friends of the Center and the Association OZANA and Štrikeraj café knitted and crocheted woolen squares in the open air and attracted many curious glances.
A public forum “Positive effects of knitting and crocheting on the individual and the community” was organized in the Zagreb Cultural Information Center, bringing together doc. dr. sc. Goran Sedmak, Head of the Department of Developmental Neuroscience of the Croatian Institute for Brain Research, Karolina Doutlik, PhD student at the Faculty of Teacher Education, University of Zagreb, Ivana Milković, member of Knit-a-square Croatia, Maša Žarnić, educator and practitioner of expressive art therapy, Marija Škes, mag. educ. reh. and Head of the Department of Healthy Lifestyles of the Institute of Public Health and Ivona Martinčić, designer and author of woolen graffiti Voona. This way therapeutic effects of knitting and crocheting for the media and the public were further emphasized and confirmed.
Each event was announced with a media invitation and followed by a press release. In a month and a half, the campaign generated 103 media releases on portals, appeared in 11 radio and 14 television shows, collected about 3,500 squares of which as many as 70 blankets will be created, and reached Slovenian and Spanish groups that donated and delivered hundreds of their works. The number of followers on Facebook increased by 780, and 165 new people followed the OZANA Association on Instagram. YouTube users spent 140 hours watching videos with knitting instructions and human stories. With a budget of five hundred dollars, video content and events as part of the “Upletimo se” campaign were promoted via Facebook Ads in the City of Zagreb. The videos on Facebook collected 94,062 views, and all posts combined reached a total of 338,257 people, created 482,781 impressions, and generated 19,801 interactions with the posts.
The culmination of the campaign and the expected end was the reveal of a large Christmas tree of love and togetherness on Europski trg in Zagreb, but the kindness, interest and humanity of the people did not allow the action to simply stop. More than a month after the “finals”, woolen squares from all parts of Croatia, Slovenia and Spain still arrived at the address of the Association and Center OZANA and Štrikeraj café, as well as knitted, ready-to-use blankets for the homeless, and donations in the form of wool, and knitting and crocheting needles.