Help I’ve cut myself and I want to save a life

by thewheatandthechaff

More than enough has already been written many places elsewhere about this year’s Cannes Lions, but I felt personally compelled to heap further praise on the winner of this year’s Grand Prix for Good.

Called ‘Help I’ve cut myself and I want to save a life‘, it was devised by Graham Douglas, a creative at Droga5, in collaboration with quirky pharmaceutical company Help Remedies.

For Douglas, it was very personal project. In 2002, his brother was diagnosed with leukaemia. He received a life-saving bone-marrow transplant and made a full recovery—something Douglas hopes to see for more of the 10,000 people in the U.S. who need marrow transplants each year.

More than 650,000 people around the world are diagnosed with leukaemia and lymphoma every year, and for many them, a bone marrow transplant is their only hope. Sadly, only around half find a match. There aren’t nearly enough people on marrow donor registries, and to make matters worse, it’s so complicated to sign up that it’s a wonder anyone’s registered at all.

Douglas’ brief  was to change registering as a marrow donor in the US from something complex to simple and everyday. Here’s how he did it:

Simple, clean, effective: the donor registry kit enclosed with Help’s bandages

Below is a typically quirky spot promoting the initiative, which is perfectly in line with Help Remedies’ peculiar but effective brand strategy.

As with Douglas, the issue is also very close to my heart, and it pains me to say that Anthony Nolan – the world’s first bone marrow register, no less – are doing nothing anywhere near as innovative as this in the UK.  A recent TV campaign aimed at raising funds for the charity pretty much flew under the radar, and strikes me as wide of the mark when it comes to the fundamental issue anyway, which is surely to get more people to sign up to the Register.

In order to do that, you have to make it easy. Thoughtless even. People are too busy and too scared of what donating bone marrow actually involves because they don’t know any better.

It’s a missed opportunity, because Anthony Nolan themselves launched a brilliant initiative a couple of years ago which makes registering easier, more info on which is below:

This has obviously been a commendable step forward for Anthony Nolan. However, it strikes me that a similar initiative to ‘Help I want to save a life’ in the UK would be a fantastic way of not only increasing donor registrations but also a great opportunity for Anthony Nolan to develop a strong, financially beneficial relationship with a big pharmaceutical company or retailer for the future.

The results in the US speak for themselves. Since its launch, ‘Help I want to save a life’ has been seen by over 50 million people, from the most innovative minds in the world at this year’s TED conference, to mainstream news outlets, business publications, medical journals, tech media and the design community. Help’s bandage sales have increased by 1,900%, and new orders have been placed by some of the nation’s largest retailers.

But, most importantly, since the day it launched, the number of marrow donor registrations in the US has tripled.

Look and learn, Anthony Nolan. Look and learn.