Every day, two children in Germany are diagnosed with blood cancer. Globally, it’s 100,000 cases annually. Often a stem cell donation is their only chance for survival, but the odds of finding a match are high. The Bone Marrow Donor Center of the University Hospital Düsseldorf (KMSZ) works to save lives by maintaining the largest possible database of donor DNA to share nationally and internationally. The Center needed to motivate 18- to 30-year-olds, whose donors are five times more likely to provide a positive match but the least likely to donate.
Realizing that DNA swab tests weren’t appealing, we saw a new way to “lick” the problem by making the first tasty DNA test in the form of a heart-shaped red lollipop. The “Life Lolli” attracted young people who’d never considered a stem cell donation before. To enlist the selfie generation, we convinced 150 popular influencers from the entertainment to sports world to be the first to donate their DNA and drive others to join the #lifelolli initiative. News media and German businesses also spread the word around International Children’s Cancer Day.
The initiative drove an unprecedented number of DNA donations. In just one month, donor registrations exceeded 15,000 (compared to 9,198 in all of 2018). Donors were 11 years younger than the norm (down from 37 on average in previous years to 26). One in five out of 150,000+ monthly website visitors ordered a test kit. Influencers reached 85.5M and generated 628,000+ interactions. 123 news stories produced 127M+ impressions.