Campaign: UK Transplant boosts calls to organ register - Public Sector

Campaign: One Million Challenge

Client UK: Transplant (NHS)

PR teams: Sinclair Mason (national) and Harrison Cowley (regional)

Timescale: October 2004

Budget: Undisclosed

UK Transplant (NHS) hired Sinclair Mason and Harrison Cowley to handle PR for the tenth anniversary celebrations of its NHS Organ Donor Register. Sinclair Mason was tasked with promoting the national launch event, while Harrison Cowley (HC) has taken on a year-long programme of publicity initiatives running to October 2005, in conjunction with other organisations and charities.


To highlight the shortage of donated organs for transplant in the UK through positive media coverage.

To persuade one million potential donors to sign up to the register to boost the current 11.6 million registrations and, eventually, reach UK Transplant's 2010 target of 16 million.

Strategy and Plan

To mark the anniversary and launch the challenge, Sinclair Mason invited students, NHS staff and the families of organ donors and recipients across the UK to create a colourful spectacle in London's Trafalgar Square.

On 6 October, 600 people wearing organ donation campaign colours (red, blue and white) portrayed the number ten in a large red heart and then regrouped to create the figure one million.

This event was supported by a press release explaining the shortage of donors and the importance of donor-card carriers converting to the register.

The PR team sourced and tailored case studies illustrating the positive outcomes of organ donation for different media outlets and put forward UK Transplant spokespeople for interview.

HC also organised regional photocalls involving local celebrities, organ donors and recipients in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Leeds, Newcastle and Portsmouth.

Measurement and Evaluation

The London launch achieved more than 95 items of coverage, including 22 TV pieces and 26 radio slots. GMTV, BBC Breakfast, BBC Newsround, Five News and Sky News featured footage of the Trafalgar Square event and individual case studies.

Regional coverage included ITV1's London Tonight, BBC London News, ITV Wales and BBC Northern Ireland.

Radio coverage included phone-ins on Jeremy Vine's BBC Radio 2 programme and Victoria Derbyshire's Radio Five Live show. Major features also ran on Capital Radio, LBC and BBC Radio London.


Between 6 and 29 October, nearly 143,000 people added their names to the register, compared with 68,412 registrations during the same period in 2003. The number of hits on the website jumped from 33,096 on 5 October to 380,580 on launch day.

In addition, telephone calls to the Organ Donor Line increased 20-fold, leaping from a daily norm of between 80 and 100 calls to 1,683 calls on 6 October.

GMTV producer Pamela Emerson says that, as a family show, much of the decision for running items comes down to the quality of case studies.

'This story was wonderful as it featured really lovely, normal people who viewers could relate to,' she says. 'People were moved by it and could see by (presenter) Eamonn Holmes's face that he was moved by it too.'

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