How Croatia lost Eurovision…

Dalibor Šumiga Behavioral marketing/Neuromarketing, Marketing

social media marketing, brand management, influencer marketing, advertising, behavioral marketing, digital marketing

The Croatian representative at the Eurovision Song Contest, the young and talented Albina, didn’t make it to the finals.

I admit, although I usually follow Eurovision only through newspaper headlines, I watched Albina perform through the contest and personally believed that after a long time we had a representative who could deliver a good result. Albina has talent, she has the look, her song was dynamic and easy to remember. Just what the format of the Eurovision Song Contest looks for.

Having said that, she still wasn’t able to reach the finals….


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If you are not from Croatia, you must know a few very important facts about Croats:

01) we are a sport-loving or better yet a competitive nation

02) extremely passionate, impulsive and emotional (Mediterranean temperament)

When the Croatian national football team won silver at the World Cup, about half a million people waited for the players for over 6 hours in the main town square.

Similarly, but on a much smaller scale, the Croatian public rebelled in recent days to correct the injustice inflicted on Albina because she did not make it to the finals.

Purely by comparison, most protests for judicial reform, tax cuts and the fight against corruption are attended by a maximum of ten thousand people.


The format of the Eurovision Song Contest is such that you can hear all the songs before the performance, either through the national selection of songs that will represent a country, or through Youtube and Spotify channels before the election.

There is some information that most of the audience sees and hears the song only in the finale, but I couldn’t find the exact percentage.


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Assuming that all countries promote their representatives even before the semi-finals and finals, as they do….

If we assume that they do it primarily on digital channels, which they do….

It’s logical to look at “trending” results on digital channels that show the following:

01) Albina wasn’t in the top 10 streams on Spotify (she took 24th place according to data from May 15th, 2021)

02) Albina wasn’t even in the top 10 on Youtube on April 30th, 2021; newer data wasn’t available

03) when it comes to Google Trends, there is no Albina here either

So, the three main digital signals show that Albina simply wasn’t popular enough among the wide audience following the Eurovision Song Contest.

Why do I even mention Eurovision and this situation with Albina?

Because this is a very concrete example that proves 2 things:

01) people are very bad mental statisticians

Most of Albina’s fans immediately believed that there was a conspiracy theory and that someone didn’t want Albina to be in the finals.

This is a very common pattern of behavior in marketing where we make an opinion about a creative based on our subjective impression, not taking into account that we and our close circle of colleagues / friends are actually a statistical error and that our opinion cannot be reflected in a certain target group of a, for example, half a million people.

social media marketing, brand management, influencer marketing, advertising, behavioral marketing, digital marketing

02) you can be the best at something, but it’s worthless if no one knows about you

Preparing for the Eurovision Song Contest certainly didn’t cost pocket-money, but I don’t believe there were no funds to invest in digital marketing and promote the song through digital channels. The entire promotion actually fell on the back of young Albina and her personal Instagram profile. As I write this blog, Albina has 74,000 followers on Instagram…. For comparison, my colleague Erna Saljević (@divaisback) has 85,000 followers, and she didn’t perform at the Eurovision and does not have the support of a national television.

 Is it realistic to expect global success from Albina, who marketed herself on her own to just 74,000 followers?

And for the very end, let’s touch on the conspiracy theory – how politically colored is the Eurovision Song Contest?

An analysis conducted with data collected from 1956 to the very present shows that politics has nothing to do with voting preferences at the Eurovision Song Contest, but that votes are influenced by cultural and linguistic similarities.

So, tribalism is also present at the Eurovision Song Contest – we favor those competitors and countries that have more similarities with our language and our culture.

CEO of Netscape, Jim Barksdale once declared:

“If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.”

In marketing and business in general, decisions cannot and should not be made on the basis of “feelings” but on the basis of concrete data.