It’s a sight that everyone hates to see: the failure-trumpeting 404 error page. If millions of frustrated eyeballs are going to be looking at these same unfortunate pages each day, there might as well be a message on them, and indeed we’ve seen some creative enhancements to the 404 page over the years. A new initiative, though, is taking the medium beyond the standard joke vehicle and putting ads for missing children on the pages of participating companies, turning them into modern-day milk cartons.
The NotFound project gives companies the opportunity to help find missing children and bring them back to safety. Pictures of some of these children, and information about their last known whereabouts, will be published on every 404 page of participating sites, courtesy of the organizations Missing Children Europe and Child Focus, as well as the Belgium-based agency who got the ball rolling.
“The project was initiated by our agency,” says Tim Dreisen, creative director at Famous Brussels. “Next to our commercial work we feel it is our duty to use our talented people to come up with ideas for the good and to develop them.”
Dreisen adds, “The big challenge was to convince all major websites in Belgium to cooperate in our project before the launch. It took us weeks and endless phone calls to make this happen. But just in time, the 45 most visited websites in Belgium installed the notfound404 application before the launch and press conference yesterday [September 25] morning.”
Within the first hours after the launch, the Not Found Project went from 45 participating websites to 677, and that number continues to climb.
Watch a short video about the project below.