Héma-Québec surprises Black blood donors

Who: Héma-Québec, with Tam-Tam\TBWA for strategy and creative; Parade Studios for production (directed by Anthony Ayotte); La Majeure for music and sound; Carat for media.

What: “130 for 1,” a new awareness campaign urging Black Quebecers to give blood. The organization has publicly stated that it is hoping to attract 26,000 Black donors this year, up from about 10,000 in previous years.

When & Where: The campaign debuted on June 27, running across digital.

Why: About 1,500 Quebecers suffer from sickle cell anemia, a genetic blood disease that deforms red blood cells, making it difficult for them to pass through veins and organs, resulting in intense and repeated pain. People in the Black community are particularly vulnerable.

About 200 people receive treatment to remove the deformed red blood cells and replace them with healthy cells, but it requires an average of 130 matched donors each year to treat just one adult. The treatment is most effective when the donor and the recipient share the same genetic background.

How: The campaign is anchored by a one-minute and 40-second video featuring an 18-year-old Black woman named Ilanit who suffers from sickle cell anemia. She addresses 130 Black Quebecers, all of whom have donated blood, and are sitting behind a canvas featuring an artist’s rendering of their likeness.

Ilanit asks a series of questions, such as “Who here loves winter?” “Who here plays a musical instrument?” and “Who here listens to country music?” leading everyone responding in the affirmative to push down the canvas in front of them. Finally, she asks who has ever donated blood, which leads all of the people to push down their canvas. “All of you here have saved my life,” she says. “To each and every one of you, thank you.” The spot concludes with a series of rapid-fire images of donors, accompanied by the message “count yourself in.”

And we quote: “Without the generous participation of real life donors, and Ilanit, as well as Parade Studio we couldn’t have captured the human emotional reality of a numerical statistic. We’ve been excited about this project from start to finish and our hope is the commercial is seen widely and raises awareness about the importance of blood donation.” —Simon Grégoire, copywriter, Tam-Tam\TBWA


Chris Powell