Gift of Life

Uniting blood cancer patients through the power of design

DDB New York | Gift of Life


Approximately every three minutes, a child or adult in the United States is diagnosed with a type of blood cancer. Gift of Life Marrow Registry is on a mission to save the lives of people experiencing this life-threatening battle. They facilitate blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants between donors and recipients, which requires a near perfect genetic match. But the odds of finding that match are slim. Only 30% of people will find a match within their families, leaving 70% of patients seeking a non-family related match, relying on the Gift of Life registry for a volunteer donor.

DDB New York set out to bring greater awareness to the reality these patients are facing, and how you can partner with Gift of Life to potentially save a life, by featuring the lifesaving, personal stories between two people forever connected.

At its core, donating bone marrow is all about giving a piece of yourself to someone in need. In fact, after a transplant, both the recipient and the donor end up sharing some of the same DNA. The recipient literally becomes an extension of the donor. So, we looked for ways to visually connect them. We created an elegant design solution that connected donors and recipients visually, using only typography. Each ad showed two names—donor and recipient—connected by a shared letter in the middle.

We worked with Gift of Life to track down and pair together donors and recipients who shared the same first letter of their name. We then documented their stories as a way of inspiring more people to join the donor registry and hopefully save more lives.


The typography used in this design demonstrated the perfect match between donors and recipients who share the same DNA. Using a shared letter from their names, the perfect connection is highlighted.

To humanize these very real stories, we used the date of the recipient’s transplant as a URL. Each ad drove to a mobile site that featured beautiful stories told by each recipient and donor. Two sides of the life-saving story. We wanted the typography and the idea of connection to be hero. So, we stripped away everything else. The ads are unadorned and enigmatic so that viewers can connect the dots. We applied the same thinking to films, shooting them in black

and white so the emotions and stories could shine. The entire campaign was intended as a celebration of donors and recipients, and the shared hope that comes from helping save a life.

Campaign results included:

· 17,622,905 OOH impressions

· $425k worth of print media

· Total print circulation of 7.54MM copies

· Full page units in high visibility publications including The Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, NY Magazine, and The Washington Post

· Key markets including New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, and Phoenix plus many more

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