Organ Donation: When it's better to receive than to give

Bridget Angear
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO


This is a story about how planning’s search for the right insight lead to the realisation that we had been asking the wrong question about organ donation all along. By flipping how we approached the problem, we unlocked an insight that lead to a powerful creative idea and results that will save lives.

Our challenge to create the first ever campaign in the UK to increase the number of registrations on the Organ Donor Register (ODR) was tough because not only was there no precedent, but we had to get people to confront the idea of death and challenge deep-set beliefs about mortality. Our search for an answer took us to vampire bats and the discovery that organ donation is not about altruism but about reciprocal altruism. This made us ask the right question: not ‘would you be willing to give an organ?’ but ‘would you be willing to receive an organ?’ Reciprocal altruism gave us the creative insight we needed to get people to confront the idea of death whilst motivating them to register by providing a balance between self-interest and empathy.


A Bit of Background