Campaign: Transplant anniversary helps donor call - Public Awareness

Campaign: 50th Anniversary of First Successful Kidney Transplant

Client: UK Transplant

PR team: Markettiers4dc

Timescale: December 2004

Budget: £14,000

Last December was a special month in medicine. It marked the 50th anniversary of the world's first successful human organ transplant, involving the kidneys of two twins in Boston, Massachusetts. Since 1954, some 45,000 people in the UK alone have benefited from this pioneering surgery. However, donated organs remain scarce and 5,000 British people are still on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. UK Transplant, a Special Health Authority within the NHS, has been working since 1991 to match organs with patients in 'a fair and unbiased way' nationwide, as well as to increase the number of registered donors. It teamed up with broadcast specialist markettiers4dc late last year for a campaign that would run across TV, radio and the internet.


To increase the awareness of the work of UK Transplant around the 50th anniversary celebrations. To bolster the number of registered donors by increasing the prominence of the scheme in the media. To bring donation to the forefront of people's minds, including the relatively unrepresented ethnic minority groups.

Strategy and Plan

Markettiers4dc compiled video footage of organ transplants taking place, including archive footage from early operations. B-rolls were then sent to multiple news stations.

Given that the campaign's aim was to target as many potential donors as possible, the agency approached different sectors of the media to reach each target group.

Measurement and Evaluation

Markettiers4dc used measurement agency TNS Media Intelligence to monitor coverage of the campaign.

The story featured as a news item on the BBC's Ten O'Clock News and Breakfast, as well as on GMTV and ITV's Lunchtime News and Evening News programmes.

Five regional broadcasters covered the story, and it featured heavily on BBC News 24 and Sky News.

Some 124 national and regional radio stations across the UK covered the campaign. These included BBC Radio 4, Radio Five Live and IRN. In addition, the story also garnered considerable online coverage. AOL, BBC Online, and the online versions of Sky News and The Scotsman were among the 15 websites that ran pieces on it.


In total, more than three hours of TV news coverage was generated, reaching an estimated 30 million viewers. Radio stations contributed to more than 16 hours of output. This was broadcast to more than 36 million listeners, while 9.4 million internet users were reached.

On the day of the launch, UK Transplant reported a ten-fold increase in the volume of calls to its donor hotline, as well as a doubling of traffic to its website.

Markettiers4dc was particularly pleased with GMTV's coverage, which ran the donor hotline number on-screen while airing its news items on the campaign.

News correspondent Kevin Geary, who covered the story for the BBC and BBC World, tells PRWeek: 'The agency was very good and kept me on top of the story. It sent us a very good B-roll which we used in a couple of packages. This is the sort of story that would have been much more difficult to use without the agency's help.'

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