Red Cross’ Bloody Good Effort: Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

Here’s a challenge for you: watch this ad and try not to tear up or even have an “aww” moment. Our bet is, you can’t!

In the beginning, this ad transports us back to our childhood, conjuring memories of bedtime stories with our parents. The father, reading from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, lulls his son to sleep with the words: “the answer to .. life, the universe and everything is 42.”


We enter a realm of fire and flags, blimps and bands, TVs and talking mice.

Dressed in his PJs, the young boy wades through a world of 42s before approaching a podium surrounded by a sea of onlookers. Acting as another reference to the Hitchhiker’s Guide, a talking mouse informs the infant that: “This is the answer”.

With a sweet stroke of symbolism, the boy breaks the fortune cookie to reveal the number 42. At which point he says: 42 what? …”

… 42 days is how long donated blood lasts.

We then return to the boy in a hospital bed and all the 42 business starts to make sense.

Chief Strategy Officer at Cummins&Partners, Tom Ward, said: “We’re not sure whether Douglas Adams was a blood donor or not, but the fact that 42 also happens to be the exact shelf life of a blood donation is either a coincidence of galactic proportions, or the answer we’ve all been searching for.”

Marketing Director at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, Samantha Bartlett, added: “Most Australians are aware that giving blood is a good thing to do, but what they might not know is that their donation has a finite shelf-life. From the moment they donate, it has just 42 days to get to someone in need.”

This ad is the perfect blend of fantasy and reality, celebration and sorrow, childhood invincibility and real world mortality. It adapts a literary classic to tell the searing story of blood donation and truly hits home with its core message of blood expiration. The concept of the ad is supremely creative and aesthetically, it is a marvelous spectacle.

Using a child as the lead character in this story is highly powerful and emotional. No viewer could deny a child a chance at life, and this tale is all the prompting we need to: “Donate Today. Donate Regularly.”

So, for these reasons, this week, it’s a Marketing Masterstroke.

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Written By: Rob