UTS Library

"Blood Rush 3000"


The Australian Red Cross Blood Service

PR Company: 

Avviso Public Relations

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2003 A 3



Executive Summary: 

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS) traditionally experiences a downturn in blood donations through winter due to regular donors contracting colds and a general resistance to visit collection sites in bad weather.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

This year that situation was compounded by increasing demand for blood products to treat a variety of patients in NSW hospitals. As the medical profession continues to make advances in the research and treatment of diseases such as cancer, leukemia, organ transplants and even burns, the demand for blood and blood products increases.

To add to this dire situation, the Red Cross name was under siege in the media for the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Bali fundraising collection which resulted in some misinformed members of the public declaring they would no longer donate blood. (The Blood Service is a separate organisation to the fundraiser.)

NSW was facing the real possibility that lives could soon be put at risk and elective surgeries cancelled unless blood stocks were dramatically increased.

The ARCBS appointed Avviso to implement a media and PR campaign to urgently increase donations through this critical period. With only 1.5 days worth of blood supplies in stock and limited funds to spend on a fully integrated marketing campaign, Avviso and the ARCBS implemented Blood Rush 3000, an intensive campaign with the specific aim of attracting 3000 additional blood donations in three weeks.

We established powerful media partnerships to reach the target publics through metro and suburban radio and press, utilising real life stories showing the real need for blood. By the end of the campaign on June 30, Blood Rush 3000 had exceeded all expectations and surpassed the target with a total of 3415 additional blood donations.

Situation Analysis: 

Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS) is responsible for the collection, processing and distribution of blood and blood products to the Australian community. Fundamental to the delivery of this service is the voluntary blood donor system.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Blood is required daily by NSWs 200 hospitals and only 3% of Australians donate blood while more than 85% of Australians will use blood or blood products in their lifetime.

Donated blood has a wide range of uses that medical science can not duplicate, healthy volunteer donors are the only source of supply:

  •  30% donations go to treat cancer patients
  •  20% to cardiovascular such as bypass surgery
  •  15% to trauma such as road accidents
  •  10% to treatment of burns
  •  5% to anaemia diseases such as Haemophilia
  •  5% to obstetric patients

Once donated, the blood is separated into three components plasma, red blood cells and platelets, which only have a shelf life of 4 days after testing. All products are immediately distributed to hospitals, as they cannot be stockpiled beyond this time frame. Of all Australian states NSW has the lowest number of blood donations per head of population.  

In May 2003, the ARCBS NSW was facing a severe shortage of blood supplies due to the traditional winter downturn caused by cold weather and regular donors contracting colds and flu. The required fulfilment of government quotas was declining daily and supply needs were increasing.

Specifically, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />

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in Sydneys CBD and Parramatta had been under performing throughout the year and required urgent help to attract new and existing donors before the government delivery deadline of 30 June 2003.

The ARCBS was feeling the pressure brought about by the increasing media scrutiny on the National Red Cross Bali Appeal. The PR campaign needed to incorporate the message that the need for blood was a real and present humanitarian issue positioned above and beyond any issues related to the charitable side of the Red Cross.

With blood stocks now dangerously low and donation levels falling on a daily basis, the campaign had to drive home the significance of donations and the actual human need.

Due to the short shelf life and the capacity of ARCBS to process people, the campaign also needed to drive people to make appointments to donate.

By utilising real life stories of survival the campaign was executed with a high level of personal relevance to motivate people to reach the goal of 3000 additional donations in three weeks which required a daily average increase of 15%.


Avviso conducted the following research to gain insight into the blood service and the procedures surrounding the donation of blood:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

  • Conducted interviews with ARBC personnel
  • Visited <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />
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    collection site and the Westmead Childrens Hospital to gain a further understanding of the donation procedure and how the blood products are processed and distributed to patients

  • Interviewed blood donors and recipients of blood products, specifically those suffering from life threatening illnesses that would not survive without the regular use of blood products
  • Interviewed medical specialists to obtain background information regarding the processing of blood and its varying products and uses
  • Carried out informal interviews with members of the public to obtain qualitative opinions on donating blood
  • In addition ARCBS provided background information, including past CSAs, media releases, pamphlets, presentations and other written material, for Avviso to research prior to drafting media materials
  • ARCBS commissioned research to provide profiles of the previous years donors by MicroMarketing Mosaic profile descriptions, specifically for
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    and Parramatta.

Target Policies: 

  • City workers and residents<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
  • Greater <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Sydney workers and residents
  • Parramatta residents and workers
  • NSW general public

Communication Strategy: 

Implement a mass, call to action media campaign incorporating media partnerships that deliver key messages and story angles that could be sustained consistently across the three week time period to reach the target donation level by 30 June.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


  • NSW blood supplies at critically low levels
  • 3000 additional blood donations needed in three weeks
  • Make an appointment today call 13 14 95
  • Visit website to register
  • Only 3% of Australians regularly donate blood
  • More than 80% of Australians will require blood products in their lifetime
  • One blood donation can help save the lives of up to three fellow Australians
  • Every blood group is needed


With only limited funds and time, the Blood Rush 3000 campaign was launched to the media on Tuesday June 10 through the distribution of media releases and a fact sheet. From that point forward the campaign focussed completely on reaching the mass audience and bombarding them with the key messages and real life stories of survival through the use of blood products.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Prior to launching Avviso approached senior executives at the Daily Telegraph, Cumberland Newspaper Group and Radio 2UE to secure media partnerships to drive the campaign to the key audience demographics.

Due to the limited time frame only short lead radio, TV and press were approached during the campaign.

One week into the three week campaign and although the pubic had responded, we still had a long way to go to reach the target. It was agreed that some cut through media needed to be generated to the widest possible <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Sydney audience. An urgent media call was organised for Monday 16 June at the Westmead Childrens Hospital.

With one in 10 patients admitted to the Westmead Childrens Hospital requiring blood or blood products and 16% of these babies under 12 months old, it was an ideal location to invite the media to see first hand why blood products were so urgently required.

This media call resulted in coverage on the main nightly news broadcast on Channels 7 and 10 as well as running in the late bulletin for Channel 10 and again the next morning on Channel 7s Sunrise program and Channel 10 morning news.

This was the turning point in the campaign when donations started to rise dramatically.

By 19 June we had reached 1629 additional donations but only had 7 donating days left to reach the target of 3000.

We continued to provide story ideas and angles to our media partners to ensure the momentum kept rolling right through to the end of the campaign.

By 25 June, not only had we reached the 3000 target we had actually exceeded it by 130 donations and we still had three collection days left in the campaign.

You would have no doubt heard the fantastic news over by 130 with 3 days to go. It has truly been a monumental effort. Thanks for all the support Avviso have provided.

Jenny Banks, ARCBS Marketing Manager, Sydney Metropolitan 26.06.03


A range of media materials were produced throughout the campaign to ensure new and updated information was delivered to the media on a daily basis whilst repeating the key messages.

The campaign strategy was to focus on real case issues to drive home the key messages which was a new approach for ARCBS. Many of these personal stories were pitched individually to media rather than included in releases, due to their sensitive nature.

A comprehensive fact sheet was compiled which answered many of the frequently asked questions regarding blood donations and outlined what blood products are used for and the many safety and checking procedures in place that ultimately ensure the quality of the blood products they deliver.

Media releases and alerts were distributed via Newsnet to TV, radio and press chief of staffs across NSW and followed up by Avviso.


To effectively implement our strategy of using real life stories of survival, and taking into consideration the limited time frame and budget, it was imperative that we had strategic media partnerships on board for the Blood Rush 3000 campaign. Avviso approached News Ltd, the Cumberland Newspaper Group and Radio 2UE to come on board as partners.

The Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph came out strongly on launch day with the headline of Winter appeal for blood donors to save lives and then followed up over the next two and a half weeks with another eight editorials, all pushing our key messages and featuring personal stories from donors and recipients.

  • Avviso continued to provide the Daily Telegraph with story angles on a daily basis
  • All collection data updates for the campaign were forwarded on a daily basis
  • The Daily Telegraph also assisted with the distribution of Blood Rush fliers at the Wallabies game on Saturday 14 June and at the State of Origin game on  Wednesday 25 June

Radio 2UE

Radio 2UE completely embraced the partnership and encouraged all their employees to donate through the corporate donations scheme and the ARCBS shuttle bus ran transfers from the 2UE studios to the

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collection site.

  • Radio 2UE supported the Blood Rush 3000 campaign by providing on-air editorial, live reads, CSA air time and a link to Blood Rush on their website
  • In addition to the live reads, interviews with ARCBS personnel and blood recipients
  • went to air with Steve Price, Mike Carlton, George Moore and John Harker
  • Avviso continually updated 2UE with the latest figures for the Blood Rush campaign to be distributed to all their presenters.

Cumberland Newspaper Group

To support the call to action and to further push the key messages directly into peoples homes we needed the support of the suburban newspapers. The Cumberland Newspaper Group provided invaluable support by featuring recipients and donors in each of their local communities. This reinforced our strategy of using real people in real life saving situations to personalise and motivate the public to donate.

  • Avviso provided story angles, background information, contact details and images to each of relevant Cumberland papers
  • Avviso coordinated the interviews with recipients and donors
  • The following Cumberland Newspapers ran stories during the campaign:
  • Hills Shire Times (two articles), Parramatta Advertiser, North Shore Times, Manly Daily, Mosman Daily


Avviso produced a story angle template for distribution to Blood Service staff to assist them with identifying possible newsworthy stories from donors and recipients to be passed back to Avviso to be actioned.

By June 30, the NSW Australian Red Cross Blood Service had declared the Blood Rush 3000 campaign a huge success. It had exceeded all expectations with additional blood donations totalling 3415 and recorded increases specifically at

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and Parramatta by 20% and 35% respectively. In addition, the whole-blood target was exceeded by 720 and the plasma target exceeded by 29.

Coverage for the Blood Rush 3000 campaign extended well beyond the designated media partners to the point where the public heeded the call to action in some regional centres so enthusiastically that the collection sites struggled to keep up with coordinating donors.

Not only have the outstanding efforts by all during Blood Rush been rewarded with safe blood stock levels again, but we have also been able to deliver our target for plasma to CLS and exceed it by 200 kilos. Achieving this quota was something we were very concerned about only a few short weeks ago.

Jenny Banks, ARCBS Marketing Manager, Sydney Metropolitan 01.07.03



The objective of the Blood Rush 3000 campaign was clear and simple thus the primary measure of evaluation was reaching the target of 3000 additional donations within the three week time period leading up to 30 June 2003.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Avvisos reporting process allowed the program to be evaluated progressively benchmarking against the level of donations on a daily basis. Campaign results were evaluated against objectives for final report.

Formal media monitoring was undertaken by ARCBS with results passed on to Avviso throughout the campaign.

All coverage was recorded and evaluated, noting the prominence, focus, the presence of an image or colour and the tone of the article.

Of all the coverage gained throughout the campaign, only two articles were assessed as borderline neutral with all others considered positive with an extremely high level of key messages recorded.

This result could not have been achieved without the phenomenal efforts of everyone working together as a team and the fantastic response from the public and our donors in general. Great effort everyone. Thanks!

Jenny Banks, ARCBS Marketing Manager, Sydney Metropolitan 01.07.03