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Case study: Missing Type

Putting blood donation back on the agenda

Published: 13 Jan 2018

Missing Type

Client: NHS Blood and Transplant

Agency: MHP Communications/ The ENGINE Group

Campaign: Missing Type

Timescale: N/A

A quick look

The campaign reached over 2.1 billion people through 664 pieces of earned news coverage and social media activity. The campaign garnered the support of over 60 influencers that have 10/10 authority on Twitter and over 1,000 diverse brands, including Google, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Microsoft, Honda, Heathrow, Nandos, Marmite, Cadbury, TfL, Starbucks, Arsenal and The Church of England.


In 2015, blood donation needed to be put back on the agenda. With the number of new donors plummeting by 40% in the past decade, there was an urgent need to safeguard the blood supply for the future.

One of the issues we faced was how to show the problem we’re trying to solve. The fall in blood donation, while a large issue, is an invisible issue. You can’t actually see it...


Missing Type was our creative solution, taking the As, Os and Bs from the names, places and brands that we engage with in everyday life. It was an inclusive movement; anyone could drop the type from their social media profiles with #missingtype.

Using our behaviour change methodology as a starting point, we developed and implemented a three- stage disruptive campaign that sparked conversation and initiated behaviour change - creating new donor registrations rather than simply raising awareness.

The simplicity of the idea was reflected in the activation: minimal effort from the public was required to create the desired disruption and message delivery.

Teaser (3-4 June 2015): Following our targeted partner approach, a selection of brands and organisations came on board, including the Daily Mirror, Odeon, O2 and even Downing Street, and helped seed the idea of Missing Type with a series of staged activities to create disruption and provide news and social content.

Reveal (5-7 June 2015): We revealed the reason behind Missing Type with a media relations blitz. Compelling national, trade and BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) press releases, NHS Blood and Transplant spokespeople and patient case studies, leading with the 40% fall in new blood donors as a call to action, ensured coverage appeared across every major national print, broadcast and online source.

Highlights included an editorial leader in The Times and a Polly Toynbee feature in the Guardian on how blood donation is good for the health of the nation. National TV and radio features saw NHS Blood and Transplant spokespeople, patients and donors on BBC Breakfast, This Morning and Good Morning Britain, The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2, The Today Programme and BBC Radio Five Live.

Momentum phase - National Blood Week (8-14 June 2015): On that Monday, in a national media first, the Daily Mirror issued a full run of 600,000 print copies with an amended masthead missing the ‘O’, as well as editorial in the news and health pages on the need for donors and how people could participate in Missing Type. Meanwhile ITV’s This Morning ran a live on-air blood donation, the result of months of planning.


The powerful reach and influence of brands helped amplify the call to action and trigger the domino effect. What started with a handful quickly snowballed; when one brand released content, a bigger brand soon followed suit. Tens of thousands of individuals joined in as the week progressed, with hundreds sharing images from blood donor centres on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, fulfilling their pledges to give blood.

And the important stuff? The proof point is the campaign did exactly what it set out to achieve. People weren’t just sharing social content with #MissingType, they were registering to donate blood in record numbers. The benchmark set by NHS Blood and Transplant was based on National Blood Week 2014, which achieved 10,000 new donors during the same period. Missing Type saw 30,000 new donors registered over the ten-day activity period, including over 18,000 aged 17-24.

It was estimated that these new registrants could save or improve 100,000 lives.

Client verdict

“Quite simply this was one of the best campaigns NHS Blood and Transplant has ever done. Missing Type was a simple idea, brilliantly activated by a passionate, determined team. It exceeded all of our previous records for media coverage and social engagement but, most importantly, for new blood donor registrations - which is the only outcome that matters. It has become a shining example among our peers around the globe on how to run a successful donor campaign in terms of impact, behaviour change and as a collaborative agency/client partnership.” Jon Latham - Assistant Director of Marketing and Donor Services, NHS Blood and Transplant

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We create experiences that inspire lasting change. Exceptional experiences that engage people, change mindsets and behaviour, enrich cultures, increase skills...