Pay With Blood

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Romania is ranked second to last in Europe for active blood donors. Only 1.7% of the population of 20 million donate blood, and most only after someone close to them needed a transfusion. 

This had created a crisis. In 2015, blood supplies had dropped so low that doctors were being forced to cancel surgeries, and many people were not receiving essential medical care. 

Young people in particular were ignoring this important cause. Only 0.2% had ever given blood. They just simply weren’t interested in getting involved. We needed to change the mentality of young people and get them to donate for the first time.  


All young people love music. And they like others to know what they’re into too.  

That’s one of the reasons why young people wear festival wristbands long after the event is over. They’re a status symbol and a sign of doing something cool. 

In 2015, Romanians had the chance to be the coolest kids around – if only they could get tickets to Untold, a new music festival in Transylvania. Taking place in Cluj-Napoca, recently named as the European youth capital, Untold was Romania’s largest music festival and one of the most talked-about events of the summer. With top DJs like David Guetta and Avicii booked to perform, it would attract fans from all over the world, and tickets were fast selling out. 

This was the opportunity; Untold was the place where every teenager wanted to be, and they would do anything to get there. Even give blood. 

So UM would give them the chance to do just that: by offering them a free ticket in exchange for a blood donation. All they had to do was register and donate at one of 42 National Blood Centers. 

But they wouldn’t just get a regular ticket; UM would make the tourniquet they used when giving blood double up as their festival wristband. 

This wouldn’t just give teens a cool story to tell, it would turn anyone who wore their wristband after the festival into an ambassador for the cause – prolonging the message for free. As kids wouldn’t be looking for messages from the National Blood Center, it would use Untold’s social media channels to cut through.  

It would also promote the offer at blood centres around the country and with mobile blood banks in Romania’s busiest cities, to capture the target on the ground. 


For the first time, Romanians could literally pay with blood. 

The agency launched its appeal on Untold’s Facebook page two weeks before the festival launched, sharing images and GIFs of Count Dracula, Transylvania’s most famous bloodsucker. 

The message was clear: Anyone who donated blood before the festival would receive a free tourniquet wristband to Untold and become one of “Dracula’s Children”. It also offered a 30% discount to anyone who became a registered blood donor online. 

Spreading Dracula’s message, it encouraged donors to wear their tourniquet wristbands with pride, and share their donor photos with their followers. 

UM even asked the festival performers to get involved, by sharing video appeals with their social followers and inviting youngsters to participate. Artists like ATB and Fatman Scoop joined the call, while Avicii, the biggest name of the Festival, posted a personalised note on his Instagram page. 

To capture teens on the move, the agency set up Untold-branded mobile blood banks in high-footfall areas in key cities across Romania. This included Herastrau Park, the most popular meeting point in Bucharest, and in Cluj city centre 

The activity was supported by outdoor ads near National Blood Centers, supported by in-clinic posters and flyers. 


For the first time, young people started donating blood. 

• Almost 2,000 people donated blood in just two weeks – tenfold the average summer number. 

• Demand for wristbands was so high, transfusion centres had to extend their opening hours, and regional hospitals ran out of space for blood bags. 

People couldn’t stop talking about the campaign on social media. 

• 129 million media impressions gathered worldwide. 

• National Blood Donation Center’s Facebook page recorded the highest traffic ever. 

• Untold Festival’s Facebook page became the most-liked events page in the whole of Romania and became the most ‘Instagramed’ place during summer 

The tourniquet wristbands captured attention all over the world, generating three million Euros ($3.42m) in earned media 

• The campaign featured in primetime news broadcasts on the BBC, CNBC and Euronews, and in print and online in Time and The Guardian 

Even public officials joined the cause – the Mayor of Cluj publicly sustained the campaign and invited people to continue the initiative. Also the Health Minister of Romania declared his open appreciation and support for the project. 

Since the campaign, 3,192 lives have been saved with blood transfusions. 

And thousands of young Romanians are still wearing their wristbands.

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Untold Festival
National Institute for Blood
July - July 2015
McCann Erickson
Media Channel:
Direct Marketing,Events,Online,Out-of-Home,Retail/POS
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