Canadian Blood Services - The Power To Give Life

Cause (BRONZE)

Client Credits: Canadian Blood Services
Rebecca de Winter, Director, Marketing & Experience Innovation
Virginia Gaffney, Manager, Advertising & Digital Innovation
Mark Donnison, VP Donor Relations Canadian Blood Services

Agency Credits: Sandbox Advertising
Dave Rewak, VP Strategic Planning
Adam Brain, Director of Digital Strategy
Anna Nowak, Senior Strategist
Chad Kassis, Digital Strategist
Karen Howe, Senior VP Creative Director
Shawn Wells, VP Associate Creative Director
Michel Lang, Associate Creative Director
Jennifer Saunders, Art Director
Logan Broger, Copywriter
Ian Darling, Studio Manager
Carlos Simao, Senior Graphic Designer
Jillian Grenier, Graphic Designer
Jeff Robinson, Group Account Director
Rebecca Ho, Account Director
Gillian Craig, Account Coordinator

Total 934 Words


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):September 2015 - January 2016
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: September 28, 2015
Base Period as a Benchmark: September 2014 - January 2015
Geographic Area: Canada excluding Quebec
Budget for this effort: $500,000 - $1 million

Why should this case win in the category (ies) you have entered?
The strategic repositioning and subsequent creation of a donor facing brand platform and campaign increased new blood donors by 30%. Further to this the campaign created positive engagement and sentiment in social media with both new and existing donors.

a) Describe the Client’s business, competition and relevant history:

Canadian Blood Services is a national charitable organization that manages the supply of blood and blood products, such as stem cells, cord blood, and organs, in Canada (excluding Quebec). One of the most important goals of the organization is to encourage Canadians to voluntarily donate blood and its products for the public good.

This is no easy task. Canada is the second largest charity market in the world, with over 170, 000 charitable and nonprofit organizations* vying for share of conscience. So even though Canadian Blood Services is the only organization asking for blood donations, it must compete for attention and support with charities offering easier and less invasive forms of helping people in need.

b) Describe the Client’s Business Issues/Opportunities to be addressed by the campaign:

In early 2015 Canadian Blood Services tasked the agency with developing a brand strategy, creative platform and advertising campaign to reposition the organization as a top-of-mind choice for Canadian donors and help drive new blood donations. Knowing that the average Canadian donor supports 3.8 charities**, the main strategic goal was to elevate Canadian Blood Services awareness and relevance, earning it a spot among the consideration set for donations in general.

c) Resulting Business Objectives: Include how these will be measured:
Our objective was to increase preference and ultimately increase blood donations. We needed to make Canadian Blood Services a top choice for Canadians looking to give. To achieve our objectives, we needed to differentiate Canadian Blood Services from other charities and create a meaningful connection between donors and the brand. This would be measured by an increase in blood donations during the campaign period.

*Statistics Canada, 2010 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating; Turcotte Martin 2012:
**Imagine Canada,2014:

a) What new learnings/insights did you uncover?

Blood is a foundation of life that has no substitute. Unlike other forms of donation, such as food, money or clothes, there is only one source for blood. It cannot be replaced or mass-produced. Every donation requires a single donor. And each donation is vitally important. Life-giving. Because blood makes life possible, it makes every aspect of life possible. Without blood, there are no soccer games, no first dates, and no guitar lessons. Without blood, no other forms of help or charitable giving are possible. By positioning blood donation as a “first response” way of helping, we raise Canadian Blood Services to the first-choice status. No one can replace your donation!

b) What was your Big Idea?

Donating blood is sharing what matters most.

c) How did your Communication strategy evolve?

Prior to the evolution Canadian Blood Services primary message placed importance on the number of lives each donation could save (One donation equals X amount of lives saved). What Canadian Blood Services had found was this wasn’t creating urgency with donors. Donors believed that someone else would donate so they wouldn't have to. The message wasn’t resonating.

By positioning blood as the primary way of giving we created an appreciation for the donor and made them feel like they were part of a movement that truly mattered.

  1. Create awareness of the new brand positioning

    • Leverage digital, online video, social, and PR to create buzz around the new positioning
  2. Create a rallying cry for donors

    • Leverage pride of existing donors and create preference among prospective donors by giving them something to band together for

d) How did you anticipate the communication would achieve the Business Objectives?

By creating more appreciation for donors and elevating their donation to “what matters most” we would increase donations overall, and encourage repeat donations from existing donors.

Section IV — THE WORK
a) How, where and when did you execute it?

The awareness campaign “You have the power to give life” was launched on September 27th, 2015.

A red bandage on a lowered forearm (a clever twist on the revolutionary raised fist) became the symbol of our movement. As both a literal call to arms and a recognizable badge of honour shared by donors, it formed the central image of the campaign, which included television, digital platforms, social media and point-of-donation materials at clinics. This campaign gave donors a way to share personal stories about their experience through social media, successfully spreading the message across different channels.

The best part? Donors now receive the red bandage after donating, allowing them to wear their very own badge of honour.

c) Media Plan Summary


  • Paid Social (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)
  • Online video (Pre-roll)

  • Door/window decals; POP (in-clinic promotional material)

  • Live/ambient media

  • Radio

  • Digital display

a) How did the work impact attitudes and behaviour?

Both new and existing donors embraced the red bandage as a symbol of honor and shared it on social channels. Engagement on facebook with Canadian Blood Services increased by 66% as people commented and shared the red bandage through social media.

b) What Business Results did the work achieve for the client?

The campaign resulted in a 30% increase in new blood donors. This number continues to rise, from a monthly average 5,262 prior to  launch to 6,875 (and counting) post launch.

c) Other Pertinent Results

The new brand positioning and resulting campaign helped align a fragmented brand internally and externally. The new look and feel was implemented in donor clinics across Canada and the Red Bandage became a symbol and source of pride for both staff and volunteers.

d) What was the campaign’s Return on Investment?

This is yet to be quantified.

Section VI — Proof of Campaign Effectiveness
a) Illustrate the direct cause and effect between the campaign and the results

The campaign was the only activity in-market during the campaign period. No other promotional activity was present.

b) Prove the results were not driven by other factors
Campaign spend vs. history and competition:

Campaign media spending year over year was flat. 

Pre-existing Brand momentum:

As a brand repositioning and a departure from a pre-existing campaign there was no existing brand momentum.



Changes in Distribution/Availability:


Unusual Promotional Activity:


Any other factors: