Case study

MPAN – Missed Birthdays

The Missing Persons Advocacy Network (MPAN) works to generate awareness of missing persons, and support the loved ones left behind.


The Missing Persons Advocacy Network (MPAN) works to support the loved ones of missing persons. This sees MPAN both generate awareness for missing persons cases, and awareness of the little understood form of grief experienced known as ambiguous loss. When a person goes missing, the search puts the focus on them. Yet with over 100 Australians reported missing every day, this traditional approach of providing a photo and some basic information doesn’t always receive the necessary public interest, or convey the emotion behind each case.


How do we get people to connect emotionally with missing persons cases and ambiguous loss, when it requires first-hand experience to be truly felt and understood?


A missing persons campaign unlike any other – one that looked at those left behind on the most important day of the year. ‘Missed Birthdays’ saw the family members of missing persons record or write heartfelt messages to their loved ones. These messages were run in above-the-line media on the missing person’s actual birthday. Each message reaches directly out to the missing person, but also invites the audience into the emotional world of what it’s like to not know whether someone will ever return.

Through an occasion we can all relate to, more meaning is given to missing persons cases and more understanding is developed of ambiguous loss. And it’s hoped that the missing persons themselves will see the birthday messages from their loved ones.

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