About the client
In 2020, Split Tourist Board (Turistička zajednica Grada Splita) as the organizer of Split Advent, faced a challenge that encompassed all cities with the Advent fair tradition: holding an event amid the SARS-CoV-2 virus pandemic. Split Tourist Board opted for a reduced, and predominantly digitized version of Advent, which, in addition to online, took place at several key locations in Split, in accordance with epidemiological measures. An additional circumstance in the organization of the event was the complete ban on operation of all catering facilities on the very opening day of Split Advent.
For the Split Tourist Board, we developed the concept of the event Split Advent 2020, created a communication strategy and visual identity, managed social networks and media relations, and provided communication support throughout its duration. The biggest challenge was to hold a multi-week event (usually based on intimacy, closeness and gathering) during the SARS-CoV-19 virus pandemic, given that many activities that the public associates with Advent fairs, such as skating or socializing while having a glass of mulled wine, were suspended.
The strategically shaped communication and organization of the event under the slogan Love unites us, accompanied by an Advent-like visual identity, highlighted the fundamental values of the pre-Christmas time that connects people even when they must be physically distant. The very concept of the event is based on the four Advent candles as one of the most recognizable symbols of the pre-holiday time, whose lights hint at this great event: the first week of Advent the prophet’s candle brings hope and anticipation of Christmas; with the second candle we approach that day through the symbolism of peace and serenity in the form of the Bethlehem candle; the third, shepherd’s candle brings the joy of Christmas, and the last one, angel’s candle, symbolizes love. From this Advent circle comes one of the main messages of love that unites every person with their loved ones, even when, due to a pandemic, they are deprived of intimacy and the possibility of hugs and touches.
Love as a guiding thought was part of many humanitarian gestures during Advent, which began and ended with generous socially responsible donations, all covered by the local and national media. Before the start, the Split Tourist Board re-assigned the money designated for the ice rink to the purchase of five new AIRVO 2 high-flow oxygen therapy devices for the Clinical Hospital Centre of Split, and at the very end, all funds assigned for the New Year’s fireworks were sent to help the victims of the earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina county.
As befits, Advent was opened with the traditional glow of the first Advent candle of hope in Đardin Park, and in the following weeks candles were lit on a large Advent wreath symbolizing peace, joy and love. One of the most impressive parts of Advent in Split were the visual attractions at as many as three locations in the city.
The message saying that we can feel Advent even away from each other was further stressed by the ability to follow events and live music and theatre performances online. Thus, for children, in cooperation with the City Puppet Theatre, an online broadcast of the play Snjegović Poštar (The Snowman Postman) was organized on Christmas Eve. Fans of music classics were able to enjoy the performance of the band Music Forever, and at the end of 2020, jazz sounds of the duo Sara & Jappa were broadcast. They dedicated their performance to the residents of Petrinja, Sisak and surrounding villages affected by the devastating earthquake earlier that day. As a Christmas present, Split National Theatre and Split Tourist Board provided citizens with free tickets for as many as two performances of the play Laponija (Lapland). All other events related to Advent in Split were also accompanied by live broadcasts so that citizens, and all those who follow Split Tourist Board, despite the distance, could enjoy the event.
In order to keep the spirit of Christmas, some of the events were set up in the open to maintain the necessary distance and everyday accessibility. In cooperation with Split Photo Club, an exhibition of photographs called Okreni na ljubav (Switch to love) was set up in one of the main pedestrian streets in Split, reminding all passers-by of the spirit of the previous Christmases and strengthened their faith in the upcoming holidays, characterised by closeness. A walk of St. Lucy and Santa Claus was organized at the Split waterfront (Riva) and the children received gifts, while respecting all epidemiological measures. In addition to this, the indispensable Christmas nativity scene and the Bethlehem light were promoted in the media and on social networks.
In order to raise interaction with the citizens, as well as their inclusion in the Advent program, a series of internet and classic prize and humanitarian actions were created. Children and parents thus enjoyed the gifts of the modernised St. Nicholas and distributed sweet gift packages to small artists from the city area and the surroundings of Split via social networks. A prize game called “Fotografiju odvoji i ručak osvoji (Take a photo and win lunch)” was organised, in which the creators were given gift vouchers for food delivery. By leaving holiday messages in the Boxes of good wishes at two locations in Split, citizens were able to win other valuable sponsor awards. Through the action Zagrli srcem (Embrace with your heart), the children’s home Maestral received a donation from the Split Tourist Board and the winner of the homonymous competition.
The action called Cima ljubavi (Mooring line of love) was devised as a particularly emotional part of Split Advent, which once again emphasized the main value of Christmas. In cooperation with the Facebook page Modri kavez (Blue Cage), which brings together numerous seafarers and lovers of the sea, Split seafarers and their families were invited to send videos to their hometown with messages about their own holiday experience, which they often spend on board.
In addition to the key messages of the holiday’s true value, the safety of Advent visitors in Split during the coronavirus pandemic was continuously stressed in all media messages. Split Advent was present in the local and regional, as well as the national media almost every day – over 330 media announcements were generated on radio, television, press and portals in the 42 days of the campaign. Following the epidemiologists’ advice, the planned program was proactively adjusted daily and communicated to the public in a timely fashion.
The existing social networks of the Split Tourist Board served as a platform for Split Advent and Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter were used, too. The total reach of Advent-related posts on Facebook was almost half a million, of which the ratio of organic and sponsored posts was distributed almost identically – 50/50. The average number of impressions of each post was over 6,000 (a total of over 735,000). On Facebook alone, users spent a total of 37 hours watching video content, and 395 persons started following the Split Tourist Board in that period, without setting up campaigns focused on that specific metric. Over 11,000 post likes were generated on Instagram, while the video contents gathered about 19,500 views.
Video contents were also posted on the Tourist Board’s YouTube channel, whose statistics show 13,000 views, with a total viewing time of 603 hours. On Twitter, posts during the Advent period gathered nearly 25,000 impressions with 1,600 profile visits. Impressions grew by 130% in December compared to the previous month. There was no advertising on these two platforms.