As a sharp reminder that in former Yugoslavia advanced marketing campaigns did exist, the example we will introduce today is the expedition – Kragujevac to Kilimanjaro. Marketing campaign which at that time set a standard and did push the boundaries to what was previously connected with pure commercials.


Kragujevac to Kilimanjaro Expedition

Twelve crew members with their five brand new Zastava 101 cars  started their 11.000 km long journey on 14th of February 1975. The journey took few months and was heading to the most inaccessible part of the world, north-east and east Africa. For full itinerary click here. Together with Zastava Automotive plant many other component producers took part in the rally (Tigar, Modriča etc.).

As such, this was one of its kind expedition which had a way more important commercial context in the background. Some of the pictures are available in below gallery. The expedition itself was widely supported by Non-Aligned Movement country members. As a result, two books have been published following the expedition and a documentary “Kragujevac Kilimanjaro Expedition“. For further reference click here.

Which Marketing Implications this Expedition (read “campaign”) had

The first and ultimate highlight is the fact that this marketing campaign was fully out-of-the-box and aligned itself with some of the most prominent car producers in the world and their marketing practices back then (’70s).

  1. Very advanced thinking and reasoning at a time. I believe the slogan of organizing team and Zastava was Instead of waiting something to happen, simply make it happen“. Of course, these are my words but we see fully their projection in practice. Instead of waiting potential market to knock on their door, Zastava decided to knock on their (African) door in return in furious and very aggressive manner. You have one shot to guess what was the only automotive brand domestic people was aware of after the expedition – Zastava brand.
  2. Expedition itself was about creating experiences. Creating experience is a back bone of every marketing campaign, actually it must be. More in example 1, example 2, example 3 etc. The main goal was to create a feeling which translates into this inner sentiment: “Look at how cool, great and solid these cars are and how cool I look by standing next to them or driving them…” It might sound funny, but this is how it really works in psycho background. Trust me, if not – consult Mr. Drucker and his early thoughts on this topic.
  3. So-called umbrella marketing. You can guess why. Beside Zastava Automotive Plant, there have been several companies with their brands presented on the spot at the same time. This is typical example where smaller and accompanying brands use given chance to communicate their message within original marketing campaign organized by so-called pole brand, or Zastava in this case. Zastava 101 presented itself as a strong and reliable market entity in return. Job well done when it comes to synergy and its utilization. Win – win for both parties. There are lessons to be learned from this, and I am not joking.
  4. Staggering publicity. One once said “There is no such a thing as a bad publicity”.  In case of Kragujevac – Kilimanjaro expedition public, press and agencies played their role. Tremendous buzz has been lifted in the air in no time (we are talking about seventies where you really had to come up with something great to become viral). Brand awareness (and sales :)) of Zastava cars were hitting the peak in the years to come.
  5. Introduction of Story telling as a marketing concept in ExYU. Those who are telling stories are gonna win the World. I am aware I could be wrong when saying this, but it is on of the flagship examples how story telling works in its essence. This expedition made huge audiences listen carefully what was supposed to be communicated to them, for days, weeks and months. There we go. You can expect info-graph summarizing the story in later editions.

We can only admit that this expedition proved its commercial and marketing character big time in a years and decades to come after. Forty one year passed since, and we could not see many of similar great marketing campaigns which unconsciously leave our mouth wide open as result of uncontrollable excitement. There are positive examples here and there, but nothing on this scale. Nothing this remarkable and nothing has left this sort of footprint neither in marketing practices, nor in academia.

Bonus, the route expedition took in Africa to reach Kilimanjaro.


Thanks to Vuk Kešelj who triggered my further research into expedition which led to this article.

Picture credits goes to Autoslavia.

Stay tuned for more interesting articles.
BalkanMarketingStories Crew