‘Red Defender’ Promotes Blood Donation

NEW YORK Euro RSCG has created a pro bono campaign with a fictional character called the “Red Defender” on behalf of the Ad Council to promote blood donation, the organization said.

Targeting young adults, the public service announcements, which launched on Aug. 22, are designed to inspire blood donation as a lifelong commitment.

In one Web spot, the superhero’s wife answers an emergency call about a robbery from the police while the Red Defender finishes up in the bathroom and then flies out the window. After he quickly dispatches two crooks, the gathered crowd begins laughing at him because a piece of toilet paper is hanging out of his superhero costume.

The New York office of Havas-owned Euro RSCG worked with animator J.J. Sedelmaier, known for his work on NBC’s Saturday Night Live and Beavis and Butthead as well as spots for Slim Jim, Footjoy and Hotwire, to create the Red Defender. The character had adopted the 3-year-old campaign theme line, “Saving the world isn’t easy, but saving a life is.”

In another spot, the Red Defender sees a missile flying towards a playground. He nonchalantly picks up a car and hurls it at the oncoming weapon, which explodes in the sky, hurting no one. The owner of the car, a witness to the action, is less grateful than angry and gets into a dispute with the Red Defender about replacing his vehicle.

Euro RSCG has been working on promoting blood donation with the Ad Council for three years.

The American Association of Blood Banks, the American Red Cross and America’s Blood Centers are all partners in the campaign.

“The demographic, 17- to 24-year-olds, don’t have a habit of donating blood,” said Jason Holzman, a creative director at Euro RSCG who helped develop the campaign. “The vast majority of blood donors are older than that. The idea is to get a new generation of people to start thinking about the issue and to contribute as a habit. It’s an awareness campaign more than a take-action-right-now campaign.”

Holzman said the target audience is socially aware, but did not have high awareness about the blood donation issue, so the concept of using a superhero to communicate the message, especially through Web efforts, was a relevant way to reach them.

A survey conducted by the Ad Council showed that 60 percent of U.S. adults are eligible blood donors but that only 5 percent give blood. Some 5 million people annually require blood transfusions nationwide, the survey showed.

The Ad Council said this spot and other communications will run on TV, the Web, print, radio and outdoor throughout the year and that some $60 million in media has been donated for the effort.