“Missing Type” Saves Lives

jpritchard    March 3, 2018

Getting people to give blood is a challenge. Asking is hard enough, but actually getting people to do it, frankly is quite a challenge. In 2014, statistics revealed that blood donations in England and North Wales were down 40% from the previous decade. National Health Service (NHS) Blood and Transplant knew it needed to do something to reverse this trend. Enter the ” Missing Type” campaign. A team from creative agency WCRS and PR firm MHP collaborated to create a disruptive campaign to trigger conversation and initiate behavior change. This was about creating new donor registrations, not simply “raising awareness”.

The premise of “Missing Type” was to remove the A’s, O’s and B’s from names, places and brands that people engage with in everyday life. Minimal effort was required to create the desired message delivery. Media relations was the key to the campaign across print, broadcast and online outlets. Social media was essential¬† to engage with the primary target, young adults in the 17-24 age group.

The campaign was broken down into three phases.

Teaser Phase (June 3-4): where the Daily Mirror, Odeon, O2¬† and the Cabinet Office (changing the Downing Street sign) were persuaded to seed the idea of “Missing Type” with a series of staged activities to create disruption and provide news and social content.

Reveal Phase (June 5-7): A media relations blitz using NHS spokespeople and patient case-study families ensured coverage appeared in every major print broadcast and online source, accompanied by the “40% drop in donations” message. This was all leading up to National Blood Week, June 8-14.

On Monday June 8, the Daily Mirror ran a full print run of 600,000 papers with the letters A and O missing from it’s masthead. This was supported by editorial in the news and health pages on the need for donors and how people could participate in #MissingType. Over one thousand other brands participated across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, including Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Honda, Cadbury and even the Church of England. The culmination being on World Blood Donor Day when Google released an image of its logo without the O’s.

Lessons for Others

Results of the campaign were outstanding. In 2014 NHS was seeing an average of roughly 800 new donors per week. During the ten day activity period of “Missing Type”, 30,000 new donors registered, and of those over 18,000 were in the targeted 17-24 age group. “Missing Type” has since been joined by 20 other countries, including Canada and the US.

Organization: National Health Service United Kingdom
Industry: Public Health
Name of Organization Contact: Contact not available

Authored by: J Pritchard

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PR Case Study: Missing Type 2016