Sometimes advertising campaigns are so successful, brands just can’t help but extend them for another year in the hope of repeat success. This month saw exactly that: the return of the NHS Blood and Transplant #MissingType campaign. First launched in 2015, the campaign aimed to encourage new blood donors to sign up, and existing donors to continue regularly giving blood. According to NHSBT statistics, last year 1000 brands took to Twitter to show their support, and the #NationalBloodWeek and #MissingType hashtags were tweeted 26,121 times. There was widespread media coverage both online and offline, and 30,000 people signed up as new donors.
This year, NHSBT attempted to replicate the success of the 2015 campaign, but this time on a more global scale and using paid media. NHSBT teamed up with blood services and brands in countries such as Australia, the US and the Netherlands. Brands dropped the letters A, B and O from their signage and Twitter accounts, and a number of well-known tourist hotspots, including the ‘I amsterdam’ attraction in the Netherlands’ capital city, were also involved in the campaign to encourage blood donation. Royal Mail also supported the campaign by creating a special postmark which read ‘Intern ti n l Missing Type’ and was stamped on all mail sent within the UK between 16th to 19th August 2016 (National Blood Week).
The campaign continued to make use of owned media, for example, partner brands’, such as O2 and Transport for London, Twitter channels to disrupt the social media landscape, and it also benefitted from earned media, predominantly from online press. However, this year NHSBT also chose to invest in paid media, producing a 30-second TV spot which launched at the beginning of National Blood Week. Jon Latham, assistant director for global services and marketing at NHSBT, has explained that the aim of the UK TV spot was to “amplify the message” and “drive footfall”. He added that “if last year was about creating awareness, now it is about keeping blood donation on people’s agenda,” which in part explains their expansion into mass scale broadcast channels like TV.
Whilst the campaign was visually disruptive, eye-catching and endorsed by so many high-profile brands, will it be as successful as it was this time last year? Now that National Blood Week has come to a close, and brands have reclaimed their As, Bs and Os, the challenge for the NHS is to keep the momentum going by continuing to engage their audience online, to encourage both current and potential donors to take the most important step: register and donate.