Red Cross road tour aiming to boost donation of blood

LOS ANGELES: The American Red Cross launched its Save A Life Tour 2003 - which it is calling "one of the largest initiatives in its history" - to encourage Americans to donate blood regularly. Ogilvy PR will be handling PR for the tour, which kicked off on May 20. The project comes with a $1.8 million budget.

LOS ANGELES: The American Red Cross launched its Save A Life Tour 2003 - which it is calling "one of the largest initiatives in its history" - to encourage Americans to donate blood regularly. Ogilvy PR will be handling PR for the tour, which kicked off on May 20. The project comes with a $1.8 million budget.

"What we've seen is that Americans tend to come out and donate in times of disaster," explained Radha Muthiah, VP of donor strategy for the Red Cross. "We appreciate that generosity, but this campaign is about getting them to donate on a regular basis so that we avoid peaks and valleys in our supply."

Although efforts are intended to appeal to general audiences, Muthiah noted there would be a specialized focus on African-American and Hispanic communities to attract donors with rare blood types.

Unveiled by Marty Evans, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, the initiative will involve a mobile museum, where visitors can see the life cycle of collected blood from donation to recipient. Video testimonials from recipients and seminars about how donations are used will also be available.

Also, community VIPs, celebrities, donors, and recipients will act as spokespeople to educate the public on the nation's low blood supply and the importance of donation. A website, givelife.org, will provide data about community participation and current levels of donation.

The six-month tour will culminate in November in Washington, DC, where noteworthy contributing communities will be recognized. Each community is challenged to meet its own goal, as donations will be measured according to the increase in blood over the same period last year in that location. The Red Cross hopes to reach 350 cities and 3,000,000 donations.

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