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Answering A Critical Need For Blood And Plasma Donors

During the COVID-19 blood shortage, T3 collaborated with Vitalant, the nation’s second-largest blood collector, to create a campaign that empowered donors to get out and give blood to save lives.


COVID-19 brought the world to a screeching halt. Blood drives everywhere were cancelled, resulting in the loss of more than 150,000 units of blood. Facing a dire shortage, Vitalant needed a message powerful enough to inspire blood donors and convalescent plasma donors to give. With strict shelter-in-place orders, we had to inform everyone that donating was safe, legal, and essential to saving lives. And we needed to get the message out as quickly as possible to immediately generate new donations.


With an urgent need for blood and no margin for error, Material rolled out a study to determine which message would be most effective for inspiring potential donors to give blood. We tested 12 messages with one clearly proving to be the top motivator: Every time you donate blood, you could save up to 3 lives. That insight inspired the campaign: Because of you, life doesn’t stop, which resonated for two reasons: Timeliness - It reminded everyone that even though social lives are on hold, the need for blood is constant. Life doesn’t stop. Longevity - The idea can live on beyond COVID-19 because it’s a personal call to action rooted in a donor truth—by giving blood, you are keeping life going for someone in need. We tailored the message to two different donor groups, recovered COVID-19 patients who could give convalescent plasma and eligible blood donors. With strict production limitations, we scoured news stories, user-generated content and stock sites to create PSAs, radio spots, social content, display ads, posters, site enhancements, PR content and email campaigns.

Why It's Useful

When the blood shortage became headline news, all of the other blood collectors issued their standard call for donors. We helped Vitalant stand out in a functional sea of red with a more emotional and human campaign—one that was grounded in consumer research. Moreover, this campaign was built to last. As a non-profit, Vitalant has to be mindful of resources. They wanted this campaign platform to powerfully resonate with donors in any circumstances, beyond COVID-19.


Vitalant Donation Sign Up was 42% more cost-efficient than the client-provided benchmark

16 k+

Lives Potentially Saved

162 MM+


$ 8.70

Cost Per Donation Sign Up

I’ve seen agencies trying to pull creative campaigns off like this for decades and nothing has come close to the level of this!
Cliff Numark, Chief of Marketing Vitalant


As part of the launch, we reached out to celebrities who showed an affinity for donating blood or plasma and helped them craft content using our hashtag #VitalToLife. Famous comedians, athletes and musicians used their platform to help spread awareness. 


We knew that getting net new donors would be a challenge during COVID-19, so we homed in on those most likely to give: Dedicated Donors & Interested Donors. 

Dedicated donors had given before. As a group, they’re leaders, activists and enjoy playing the hero—which is why they are usually regular donors. However, many were in older age groups most endangered by COVID-19. 

Interested donors had given a few times or expressed interest in giving. This group reflects a wider age range. They are connected to their communities, empathetic and cooperative toward the greater good—which meant that they could also feel conflicted about whether to go out and give blood or stay in to show solidarity during the quarantine. 

What makes dedicated and interested donors different than most is a shared internal drive and initiative that they often point toward others. The guiding insight to activating these two groups was giving them a personally significant reason to step up by highlighting the real, life or death impact that comes from donating blood.

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