David John O’Reilly was last seen leaving his home on Thursday, 5 March 2015, informing a family member he would return. He didn’t. Concerned family members considered this behaviour out of character and reported him missing to New South Wales Police.
The details of David’s disappearance were widely promoted and shared with the community and media outlets across New South Wales (NSW) as part of the 2016 National Missing Persons Week (NMPW) campaign, which aims to highlight the issues and impacts surrounding missing persons.
David was featured in the Outdoor Media Association’s (OMA) Out-of-Home (OOH) campaign, as part of the industry’s $1 million donation of free space to promote NMPW. The OMA and its members have supported NMPW for the best part of a decade because it believes that Outdoor advertising is perfectly positioned to broadcast community awareness messages, as it’s located where people live, work and socialise. If people see something, they are more likely to say something. To date, the OOH industry has donated in excess of $2.9 million dollars in advertising space to assist in bringing attention to the 35,000 Australians who go missing each year.
And we are heartened because our campaigns get traction. On Friday, 12 August 2016, David O’Reilly was located safe and well, after Crime Stoppers received multiple calls from the community who reported seeing a man matching David’s description.
Last year, Ursula Barwick – the ‘face’ of the 2015 NSW campaign – also resulted in a significant new lead. Ursula was reported missing in 1987, after last being seen boarding a train to Sydney. Police had suspected she met with foul play until multiple calls to Crime Stoppers were received during the campaign which provided new, confirmed information about Ursula’s movements in the years after her disappearance. This has progressed the case which is still under investigation by NSW Police.
We know that OOH triggers action because it has an inherent ‘kick’ over other media: this increases engagement with targeted, receptive and alert audiences – audiences that are 2 times more alert and 2.5 times more likely to act*.
And act they did in the case of David and Ursula.
In this busy world of ours where we are driven by numbers and financial outcomes, it is wonderful to be reminded of our humanity and to be part of something bigger. Campaigns like NMPW prove to us that the more you give, the more you get. We are grateful to be involved in creating a better outcome for families across Australia with this small gesture of ours – to broadcast critical information about missing loved ones.
OMA members support over 160 other arts, sports, charity and community causes through the donation of free advertising space.
*Compared to screen time at home.