Trillium organ-izes young donors

The 'Gift of Life' campaign taps youth input to guide media presence.

A for-youth-by-youth campaign for the Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) launched today to raise youth awareness about organ and tissue donation. It’s something that 15- to 24-year-old Ontarians don’t commonly have on the brain, which TGLN is hoping to change with a brazen multi-platform campaign telling them that it’s a cause they should open up to. Developed by Narrative Advocacy Media and Mighty Digital Direct + Design (both units of Toronto-based Bensimon Byrne), the effort kicked off with a tongue-in-cheek PR event in Toronto promoting the opening of ‘Heart Barn,’ a pretend peddler of human hearts, which featured an appearance from blood-pumping mascot Cardiac Carl.

In efforts to make sure the message reaches the target, Narrative picked the brains of 16- to 24-year-olds on a Youthography panel to develop the media strategy. ‘We talked to them about what they wanted to see from a media perspective,’ explains Amanda Alvaro, MD of Narrative, which also handled the media buys, adding that the youth advisory group wanted the ads ‘to get them where they are at, online and in transit.’ The youth advisory group was presented with different media choices – transit versus online, print versus monster boards or construction hoarding – and the buys were guided by their reactions.

Given the demo, it’s no surprise that is at the centre of the campaign. Greeted by Ben, a character whose chest opens like barn doors to give the inside scoop on major organs, visitors can access video testimonials from donor families and recipients, footage from actual organ transplants and a forum to discuss the topic. ‘The strategy is to make youth aware of organ and tissue donation, but not just that it exists, but as a cause that needs them,’ says Troy Palmer, associate CD at Bensimon Byrne, ‘and further to that, to give them the sense and the belief that they have the power to save a life.’

The site also features links to a Facebook page with unique content not found on the website, like video from the PR launch and global news about organ and tissue donation. It also links to a Twitter page, where users can get tweets from a human liver.

Web banners on,, and represent 50% of the media buys, helping to leverage a modest media budget, according to Alvaro.

Using the tagline ‘if organs and tissue were this easy to find, we wouldn’t need donors,’ transit shelter ads, interior transit cards, wild postings and online banner ads also roll out today across Toronto and 30 other Ontario cities including London, Sudbury and Ottawa. The OOH lets young people know that since organs don’t come cheap these days, they should seriously consider recycling theirs, and drives to the interactive microsite where they can register as an organ donor. The youth advisory panel also wanted some alternative approaches to pique interest, so vacant retail storefronts will be rented in Toronto for ad space and constructing hoarding around the city and across province.