At 29, and with no previous health conditions, Chris loved two things: his son and football. One day, as ordinary as any other, he ended up in a hospital fighting for his life. Chris began to feel ill while playing football. He tried to ignore the feeling but suddenly cramped up and vomited huge amounts of blood. When the ambulance arrived, it was clear he had internal bleeding.
Chris had problems with his liver and doctors diagnosed him with Budd-Chiari syndrome, a rare condition that affects less than one in 70,000 people in Europe. Chris urgently needed a liver transplant. Finally, after 15 months of waiting, the call finally came.
After undergoing 12 hours of surgery, Chris had to learn to walk and sit up again. Today, he’s fully fit—feeling better than ever. He’s even finished a 10k race.
Chris is just one of several people whose lives have been saved by an organ donor. In fact, 2014 statistics show that about 86,000 people across Europe are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Sixteen of them will die each day while waiting to find a match in time.
Havas Lynx created a new campaign for pharmaceutical giant Teva to raise awareness about organ donation. The campaign features Chris’ poignant story and the survival stories of many others.
Account Director Julie Southam and Senior Creative Neha Banati tell us how they used the idea of speed dating to underscore the importance of organ donation and how they hope this campaign will save more lives.
How did you find each of these individual, touching stories to share?
Neha: Authenticity is absolutely key for this sort of campaign, so we knew the importance of finding real people affected by conditions which require a transplant was the only way to go. We asked around all our networks, professional and personal, to see if we knew anyone who would be willing to help us get the message out. Just opening up the conversation to our friends and colleagues showed us in real terms the severity of the problem. We found that many people we know have been personally touched by the issue of organ donation. Some of them then became part of the film. And those who were not available to be in the film, contributed their insights and stories, making the film even stronger.
Where did the idea of speed dating come about?
Julie: We actually did quite a bit of research into what would drive people to sign up—or what would prevent them. We found that the key elements which would most likely get people to act were reciprocity and urgency. So we needed a concept that was really relatable to a wide audience and evoked a feeling of time running out. And we came up with speed dating.
Do you find that people are aware of the need for organ donors?
Neha: Yes, but even so, they are hesitant to sign up because people don’t like to contemplate their own deaths, which is understandable. Almost everyone agrees there is a need for organ donations, but there’s a lack of urgency to sign up. It’s a subject matter with a heavy message that people tend to avoid, which is why we feel so strongly about the importance of the campaign.
What might be making people hesitant to consider donating?
Neha: It’s a lot of things combined that cause hesitation. No one thinks they’re going to die anytime soon, so why do it now? Then there’s the issue of time. How much time will it take out of my busy day? What do I have to gain from it? It sounds selfish but so many people imagine they will never need an organ transplant, so they don’t feel the need to sign up.
Once you make people realize the scale of the problem—and that they could be affected—they understand the importance. It’s worth pointing out that some people do have religious and personal reasons for not signing up, and it’s important to note that every individual has a right to make that choice in light of their beliefs.
How does this campaign tackle that?
Julie: We used humor to make the campaign something that people would want to watch. But to be honest we also tried to use the fact people feel uncomfortable. It had to be a bit of a hard reality that people had to be faced with to get them to talk about the campaign and, as a result, about organ donation to make them take action.
The juxtaposition between the humor at the beginning of the film and the reveal at the end is built on the psychology of what would be most likely to get people to talk about the campaign, and most important, to act and sign up.
What’s the response, so far, to this campaign?
Julie: So far, it has been a really great response. In the first week, we had a reach of more than 500,000 with more than 50,000 engagements. We are waiting to hear from the National Health Service in the UK for the total number of people who signed up. We won’t know for another couple of weeks, but each sign-up has the potential to save or improve up to 50 lives. And to be honest, if we only saved one, that would be enough. You just can’t place a value on someone’s son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father—all the lives that may be saved because of this campaign. That’s humbling.
What’s something that you would like everyone to know?
Julie: You’re more likely to need an organ transplant than to become an organ donor. That blew my mind and really put the situation of the organ donor deficit into perspective.
Neha: Yes, I think Julie’s point is absolutely key. Most people don’t realize this fact. It’s important to recognize that it’s really not a big deal to sign up; it doesn’t take long, and it couldn’t be more worthwhile few minutes of your life. On a totally random note, the human body is fascinating; we discovered some people have one to three kidneys.