NHSBT X Marvel

NHSBT X Marvel

NHS teams up with Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

In 2022, the NHS faced a perfect storm: the mounting pressure of a Covid-induced backlog of surgeries and the highest usage of A&E in 3 years. This was coupled with dangerously low blood stocks – we saw a huge 26% drop in new blood donors in Spring 2022. If the trend continued there was a real threat that hospitals would have to restrict usage of blood, which had never occurred in UK history. Attracting new donors was a genuine matter of life or death. But the public had become desensitised to public health emergencies. Mixed in with mounting distractions such as the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis, blood donation just wasn’t on Brits’ agendas. We needed to be visible. We needed to be relevant. And we needed to galvanise the nation.

Comics emerged in the Great Depression and superhero movies have topped the box office in recessions ever since. And, unsurprisingly, 2022 was set to follow the trend. According to psychologists we are drawn to positive outcomes against the odds and everyone deep down inside wants to be some kind of superhero. So, what on earth has that got to do with blood donation? Few people know that donating blood is the most superhero-esque action the average human can make with the potential to save up to three lives per donation! By reframing this way, we had the power to unlock the nation’s inner superheroes…

The formula was simple. We created exclusive video content featuring the stars of the films from Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen to Danai Gurira, which served as a call to arms, inviting fans to become an everyday superhero by giving blood. Each star was persuaded to donate their time for the cause. We used live data to amplify the message across cinemas, social and OOH in proximity to the donor centres with the most appointment availability. We specifically targeted Marvel communities in Reddit, Meta, Twitter and Snapchat, and then we layered community AV, radio, podcast partnerships with psychographic targeting of Black superhero fans to extend our multicultural reach. To further leverage trusted voices, key audience influencers were invited to themed events including pre-screenings and talks about blood donation, complete with blood type test kits.

This campaign showed that small can truly be mighty when you harness real superpowers.

  • 31% increase in new donors during the Dr Strange campaign to overcome the 26% drop. This equates to 5,268 incremental donors and up to 15,858 additional lives being saved.
  • 38% increase in new Black Heritage donors during the Black Panther campaign which equates to up to 3,952 additional life saving blood transfusions for sickle cell patients
  • We put blood donation back on the nation’s agenda with adawareness and propensity to donate blood scores at a four year high by the end of 2022.

With 2023’s recessionary climate fuelling another bumper year of superhero releases, NHSBT is set inspire more everyday superheroes to ward off hospitals’ kryptonite by keeping blood stocks healthy.

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