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Global call for blood donors of the future

  • Blood services around the world join Missing Type campaign to reverse decline in new donors
  • Survey reveals 30% drop in new donors across 21 countries last year compared to decade ago
  • NHS Blood and Transplant says younger and more diverse blood donor community needed in England
  • Campaign launches 16th August 2016 with an integrated TV, PR and digital campaign


Iconic Abbey Road sign loses its lettering, Royal Mail issues special postmark to support Missing Type campaign, while TV advert visualises need for new donors ...as As, Bs and Os disappear across the world to highlight blood donation


NHS Blood and Transplant is uniting with blood donor organisations across 21 countries to highlight an almost 30% international drop in people becoming blood donors compared to a decade ago. 1

The Missing Type campaign created by ENGINE – first held in England and North Wales by NHS Blood and Transplant in 2015 – this year brings together 25 blood services from 21 countries covering one billion of the world’s population. They are all calling for new donors to ensure blood donation for future generations.

In a survey, the blood services participating in the Missing Type campaign reported the number of people becoming donors and giving blood for the first time was 1,830,003 in 2005 and 1,324,980 in 2015 – a drop of 27.6% in 2015 compared to 2005. 2

A number of high profile brands and organisations are backing the campaign, with Microsoft, Guys & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Boots, Warburtons, Manchester City, Santander, Transport for London and Odeon featuring in a new TV advert produced by ENGINE agency WCRS that will also be seen across social media. The 30 second film shot on partner locations around England depicts an eerie, unsettling world where the vital letters of the blood groups A, B and O mysteriously disappear from familiar signs and logos.

Other major supporters include Lloyds Bank, Paddy Power and Royal Mail, who is issuing a special postmark to support the campaign. The postmark will be applied to millions of items of stamped mail from Tuesday 16 August to Friday 19 August.

PR activity is being led by ENGINE agency MHP Communications with NHS Blood and Transplant’s Media & PR team and throughout the week As, Bs and Os, the letters of the main blood groups, will disappear in everyday and iconic locations around the globe including Australia, America, Japan, Belgium and Ireland. Patients from around the world have thanked blood donors in a moving video to highlight that in a world without As, Bs and Os, they would not be here. Celebrities from around the world are also going to show their support. For example, EastEnders actor Joivan Wade has recently donated blood for the first time and a short film documenting his experience will be used on NHS Blood and Transplant’s social channels.

Across the Missing Type countries there are some differences in the numbers of donors and blood groups most in demand but all share the need for more new donors. Key barriers to people donating that have been identified by services around the world include. 

  • Wider and more exotic travel
  • People having less time to give in an increasingly busy world
  • Lack of awareness of the process
  • Lack of awareness about the need for more diverse blood donors
  • Fear of needles

Jon Latham, Assistant Director Marketing and Donor Services at NHS Blood and Transplant, the service that collects, tests and processes blood for hospitals across England, said: “Missing Type really captured people’s imagination last year, drawing important attention to the need for new blood donors. In just ten days of campaign activity 30,000 people registered as blood donors across England and North Wales.

“Our campaign concept was very positively received by other blood services around the world. And we’re really proud to have led this year’s campaign across 25 services in 21 countries covering 1 billion of the world’s population to draw global attention to the decline in new blood donors and need for people to start donating. We hope that this will be one of the largest public sector campaigns in recent history.  

“We expect to see lots of exciting things happening around the world over the next few days, ranging from images of iconic locations with letters removed, the support of well-known celebrities, newspaper masthead changes, global corporate partnerships and of course media stories about blood donors and people whose lives have been saved by blood donors.

“Blood donation is an amazing gift. Despite overall blood use in hospitals declining, we need more young donors to safeguard blood donation for future generations. And it’s vital the blood donor community reflects the diversity of the population because blood types vary across communities and patients need well-matched blood. I really hope the campaign will inspire people to register as blood donors and to donate blood for the first time and that more companies will get on board and support this important campaign.”

Paul Davies, Marketing Director for Microsoft UK said: “We supported the Missing Type campaign last year by dropping the Os on our social channels. We’re delighted to be supporting the drive for new blood donors in a much bigger scale this year. You’ll see the Os disappear in our logo in some of our advertising on the campaign launch day and our support on social media for some of our brands, such as, Surface, Windows, Xbox and Microsoft UK, we’ll also be encouraging our employees to start donating blood. Doing great things every day is part of who we are at Microsoft so it is great to work with NHS Blood and Transplant for a second year to encourage our employees and our customers to start saving lives as blood donors.”

The number of people becoming donors and giving blood for the first time in England decreased by 24.4% in 2015 compared to 2005. In England, the focus is on a particular need for more young blood donors and more black and Asian donors.

NHS Blood and Transplant’s donor recruitment work, including last year’s Missing Type campaign, the introduction of a digital real time booking system, and the use of social media to recruit new donors, have led to people signing up and starting to donate. But new donors are needed every year to replace those who can no longer donate as well as ensure the right mix of blood groups to meet patient needs now and in the future.

You can start donating blood across the UK from age 17. But last year in England only around 1 in 10 (11%) of blood donors were aged between 17 and 24, while more than half (54%) were aged 45 and over. 4 Younger donors are important to ensure blood donation for future generations.

Around 3.5% of the population in England is black African or black Caribbean, but last year less than 1 in 100 (0.64%) donors were from black communities.


  • Support the campaign on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram #MissingType.



1 Countries joining the Missing Type campaign who provided data to the Missing Type survey 2016:

UK: England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland

Europe: Belgium, Republic of Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands

Asia: Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore

Australia/Oceania: Australia, New Zealand

South America: Brazil

North America: Canada, USA, (United Blood Services locations does not incl. American Red Cross, Blood Centres of the Pacific, Inland Northwest or any other member centre)

Africa: South Africa


2 Not all services were able to provide full responses.  Countries joining the Missing Type campaign but which did not provide date for the global insights survey: Hong Kong, Lithuania, Nepal

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