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Canadian Blood Services makes ‘call to arms’

#GiveLife campaign encourages stem cell, cord blood and organ donations

Canadian Blood Services is hoping to attract more donors with a clever new advertising campaign that includes a trademark red bandage for people who give blood.

The campaign, appropriately described as a “call to arms,” includes a video spot featuring a burly biker pulling up beside a boy pedalling an ice cream cart and each nodding in mutual respect for their red bandages.

 

The spot encourages Canadians from all backgrounds to roll up their sleeves and donate blood, where they will receive the exclusive red bandage with a #GiveLife hashtag.

“The red bandage is designed to give donors something that they can wear with pride long after donating blood to create a more lasting experience and inspire others to give,” said Rebecca DeWinter, director, marketing and experience innovation at Canadian Blood Services, in a release.

In an interview with Marketing, DeWinter says the campaign attempts to change the way the organization engages with Canadians. It also includes a call for different types of donations including stem cells, cord blood and organs, where possible.

“We wanted something that would unify Canadians to give in a variety of different ways,” DeWinter says. “The red bandage is a tool to recognize this level of commitment.”

She says Canadian Blood Services is also taking a more aggressive position on “new donor prospecting,” which hasn’t been the case in the past.

Canadian Blood Services says about one in two Canadians are eligible to give blood. However, only one in 60 Canadians actually did in 2015.

The campaign was created by Toronto-based Sandbox Advertising, whose goal was to change the tone around giving blood. Instead of advertising the urgency, which still exists, the agency tried to develop a more personal connection with donating, says Rebecca Ho, group account director at Sandbox.

“We wanted to give them a badge of honour — the red bandage — that they can wear around and start the conversation to encourage new donors as well,” Ho says.

“Our hope is that this physical symbol and the messaging behind it will make the act of donating a much bigger and more rewarding experience.”

The marketing materials feature “revolution-style imagery” and is being rolled out across traditional, digital and social media.

That includes radio spots, which Ho says have worked well for Canadian Blood Services in the past. There is also a 30-second and 15-second pre-roll for digital. Ho said TV isn’t a part of the media buy, but the spots are available for use as public service announcements.

The campaign started as a soft launch in September, with some experiential marketing done by Launch, where people dressed in red body suits walked around downtown Toronto giving out bandages to promote the campaign.

There was some traction, which Ho says then led to the large campaign now being rolled out.

The red bandages are now available at all blood donor clinics across Canada.

 

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