Led by NHS Blood & Transplant and globally managed by MHP – Engine, this campaign had already been successful in England. The challenge was to make it deliver strong results again – this time on a global stage. The campaign needed to change behaviour across 21 countries to increase the number of new donors, and it did. An unexpected but beneficial spin-off was the partnerships created between blood services and, importantly, international competing blood services. As the campaign progressed, it yielded valuable learnings which were shared across all the markets to improve results. Using a strong mix of tactics, the judges were impressed by the close alignment between objectives and outcomes.


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Brief and objectives:

In 2015 MHP and NHSBT launched Missing Type to address the decade long decline in new blood donor registrations in England and Wales. It was a week-long PR and social campaign that saw the letters of the blood groups A, B and O disappear from signs, logos and social media profiles.

In 2016 it was reprised with an added twist: 23 donor organisations from 21 different countries would also get involved in their local markets. This would be the first ever integrated global blood donor campaign.

The core objectives were:

  • Generate national (UK) and international news coverage around the need for new blood donors
  • Develop a global toolkit for 21 participating nations
  • Co-ordinate launch and a week of local and global activity across traditional and social media
  • Generate 20,000+ new blood donor registrations in England during campaign
  • Boost donor registrations in participating markets.


Rationale behind campaign, including research and planning:

Everyone remembers the ice bucket challenge but few people will know that the ALS Association attempted it the following year and it sank without trace. We were tasked with the ‘tricky second album’ of Missing Type II and faced the real danger of not being able to recapture the public imagination.

Yet the fall in new donors is a global issue and this provided an opportunity.

We were confident the original creative could be adapted to an even bolder visual narrative as a global movement. The removal of the letters A, B and O has the same disruptive impact beyond national borders and languages. We believed young adults who were inspired by the first campaign in England would respond positively seeing it on an international scale.

NHSBT spent several months recruiting and co-coordinating other blood services around the world for the first ever global campaign


Demonstrate the adaptation of messages to different national audiences:

The removal of the blood group letters A, B and O had a consistent global message.

The toolkit gave local markets the advice and freedom to negotiate their own local partners, which combined to form a global narrative.

The success of the campaign resided in the simplicity of the creative and ease of activation.


Strategy and tactics, including creativity and innovation:

Using MHP’s behaviour change methodology as a starting point, our strategy was developed around some of the key steps within the model:

Trigger points: Timing, context and location would be crucial to reach audiences. Disruptive visual content would be critical for our integrated strategy which included media relations, video and social channels, using the reach and influence of brand partners for maximum impact.

Facilitation: Make it as easy as possible for audiences to participate and register to donate.

Reinforcement: Reset donation as the new normal.

MHP secured high-profile UK brand partners such as Microsoft (global), Boots, Manchester City and Paddy Power to provide content for launch.

To develop a consistent narrative and call to action we created a global toolkit that could be activated by individual blood donor organisations around the world – in a domino effect style across time zones starting with New Zealand and ending with the United States.

The resulting ambition was to create a movement based on affirmation and sharing that would enable anyone to join in: from individuals through to media, influencers, sports clubs and the world’s biggest brands.


Implementation of tactics:

Missing Type International was launched with a domino effect across the time zones on August 16 with sustained bursts of partner activity through the week.

  • Once again As, Bs and Os disappeared from signs in iconic locations such as the Sydney Opera House, Tokyo Tower, Singapore Botanical Gardens, Table Mountain, Times Square, The New York Stock Exchange, Abbey Road and Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch station in Wales
  • Participating brands and organisations included Google, Coca-Cola, Qantas, Samsung, McDonalds, Santander, Nandos, Royal Australian Navy, Fiat and Toronto Police
  • Celebrities and influencers such as the cast of Neighbours, American football quarterback Brady Quinn, Dexter Fowler of the Chicago Cubs joined dozens of sports teams such as Arsenal, Spurs, Glasgow Rangers, Cincinnati Bengals, Boston Red Sox and IFK Gothenburg to show their support through social media
  • Unpaid media partners also came on board with national newspapers such as The Irish Mirror, Sydney Morning Herald, Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden) and 7 TV News (Australia)
  • At donor centres around the world members of the public giving blood shared #MissingType user generated content across social media.

Here in England we collaborated with a number of high profile partners to make Missing Type bigger, better and bolder:

  • Royal Mail made sure households up and down the country noticed the campaign by issuing a special postmark that was applied to millions of items of stamped mail during campaign week
  • Paddy Power dropped the letters from one of its central London locations, included details on how to register on its website and social channels and Paddy himself changed his name to Pddy Pwer for a live interview on national radio station Talksport
  • Tesco removed the o’s from its Covent Garden store and seeded a video of the stunt on its social channels
  • TfL issued a map of the Missing Type edition of London Underground
  • Meanwhile UniLad staged a Facebook Live blood donation in Manchester which peaked at an incredible 533k viewers around the world
  • MHP created a ‘Thank you’ montage video via Skype which featured individual beneficiaries of blood transfusions from 16 different nations. This was seeded through local market channels at the end of the campaign.


Measurement and evaluation:

Proving to be a visceral reminder of how much society needs these letters, the campaign did exactly what it set out to achieve.

  • More than 25,000 people across England registered to become new blood donors – exceeding the NHSBT target by 5,000 – That’s equivalent to saving or improving 90,000 lives
  • Huge spikes in YOY registrations in partner nations such as Belgium (+566%); Ireland (+460%); South Korea (+203%); Netherlands (+177%); Thailand (+122%); (Australia (+45%); U.S.A. (+21%); Canada (+20%); Singapore (+18%)
  • 1,000 brands and participating brand organisations in UK and a total of 1,500 globally
  • 280 pieces of UK coverage with a reach of 530 million. Highlights included:
  • Buzzfeed, Mashable, BBC Breakfast, ITV News, Channel Four News, Sky News, BBC Radio 5 Live, The Guardian, Daily Mirror, Mail Online, Metro, UniLad, LadBible, Huffington Post, Campaign and PR Week
  • 400+ pieces of global coverage
  • 235,000 video views across Facebook and Twitter
  • #MissingType was number one Twitter trending topic in the UK and ten other countries, above even the Olympics and GBBO, with 54,000 global mentions across the week
  • Over 4,500 #MissingType posts on Instagram from brands, influencers and individuals.


Budget and cost effectiveness:

England: Planning, partner sign-up, content creation, local activation, media relations – £133k.

Cost per registration fell: £34 per head to £6.25.

International: Global toolkit creation, planning and co-ordination – £45k.