SG Red Cross mascot thrust into branding limelight after adorable revamp

The Singapore Red Cross has recently given its blood donation mascot, Blood Buddy (BB), a makeover. With a more modern and adorable image, BB aims to reach and appeal to a younger generation of blood donors. The rebranding comes off the back of the growing need to engage and advocate blood donation among today’s youth with a consistent brand voice, Red Cross said.

In an interview with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, a spokesperson from Red Cross said the rebrand was done in collaboration with creative agency AKIN, who first took the time to understand BB’s history and significance to Red Cross’s national blood programme. The agency then developed BB’s new personality, characteristics, visual presentation and voice, creating a fresh new look while retaining its role as the iconic mascot of the programme. The revamped brand assets were then applied across all collaterals to ensure brand consistency and recognition

bb bio introduction 1

Besides giving BB a new look, Singapore Red Cross also further personified its mascot, sharing its age, profession, character traits, hobbies, and some of its favourite things such as healthy snacks, iron-rich food, and #FriendsofBloodBuddy (donors of Singapore Red Cross’ blood programme).

BB has been the mascot of the Red Cross’ national blood programme since 2005. While it was known to many regular donors as its official mascot, BB mainly connected with the community through physical appearances at mobile blood donation drives and outreach activities run by Red Cross.

With this revamp, Red Cross’ spokesperson said BB has been given deeper characterisation and personality, which will be fully explored through online content with its own narrative storyline.

Audiences will get to better connect with BB and understand its fears, motivations and quirky personality. The revamp is also in line with Red Cross’ newly-launched “One More Step” campaign, which aims to encourage potential donors to take small, incremental steps towards the eventual goal of being a regular blood donor who donates at least twice in a year. As the face of the campaign, the new BB serves to empathise with the physical and emotional concerns all potential blood donors have, and to showcase the small steps one can easily take to give blood and help save lives.

According to Red Cross, the role of BB has now evolved from just being a mascot to becoming a voice of encouragement for people to join the blood programme and become a donor. Its spokesperson explained that BB will continue to be a mainstay in its marketing plans, functioning as the bridge between the organisation and its wider donor community. BB will also continue to front all “One More Step” campaign messaging, and Red Cross will be creating content and developing fuller storylines to introduce BB and its universe. More offline collectibles based on BB's character will be unveiled as well.

Running from now until March 2022, the “One More Step” campaign will include a series of activations including videos and comic strips will be introduced to engage potential donors on social media. Red Cross will also be holding a giveaway of its memorabilia from 8 February to 7 March.

“One More Step” looks to attract more potential donors to start their blood donation journey, as well as to remind the community that every step counts towards making a difference. These steps may come in the form of doing an eligibility test, booking an appointment, sharing a social media post, or even holding a blood drive.

According to Red Cross’ spokesperson, the campaign also aims to dispel misconceptions about blood donation that deters potential donors from donating blood. Additionally, the organisation hopes to reach out to donors who have just completed their first donation, and remind them that taking the next step could be as simple as setting their next appointment or encouraging their friends to join the donor community. This comes as Red Cross noticed that many donors lapse on donating after their first time.

“We want to send the message that anyone and everyone has the potential to contribute to the blood donation cause, in whichever way they are best able to,” the spokesperson said.

Although Red Cross usually targets all eligible donors aged 16 to 60 for its blood programme, it is hoping to utilise the campaign its refreshed mascot to reach youths at the beginning of their blood donation journey and encourage them to adopt a long-term commitment to blood donation from a young age.

The campaign will run primarily on Facebook and Instagram, and Red Cross may look into extending its reach at a later stage. Additionally, the organisation will be leveraging a combination of both social media and out-of-home (OOH) advertising such as introducing the new BB on buses all around Singapore. Other OOH displays will be rolled out across the next few months, Red Cross’ spokesperson said. Red Cross worked with agencies AKIN for creative, RICE Communications for PR, and SCREAME for media.

Besides attracting new donors with the campaign, Red Cross said it will also be developing targeted initiatives and micro-campaigns to acknowledge its regular donors and encourage them to step forward as advocates to build a strong blood donor community.

To measure the success of the “One More Step” campaign, Red Cross’ spokesperson told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE it is “consciously shifting away from vanity metrics”, and have designed metrics centred around engagement and advocacy. Ultimately, the success of the campaign should lead to community growth and an increase in youth blood donors. “One of the key actions we are tracking is whether individuals take one more step in their blood donation journey, be it donating blood, sharing information with loved ones or even encouraging their employers to adopt blood donation as a charity of choice,” the spokesperson added.

Since it started the national blood programme in 2001, Red Cross’ marketing and outreach strategy has always been centre around the same goal: to recruit and engage blood donors in order to maintain a safe and sufficient supply of blood for all transfusion needs in Singapore at all times.  

Its spokesperson revealed that currently, only about 1.8% of Singapore’s residential population are blood donors, and only one third of them donate more than twice a year. Meanwhile, 350 bags of blood are needed every day. And while Red Cross had never turned away a patient needing blood transfusion, it strives to do more to ensure a sufficient and sustainable supply of safe blood for Singapore, the spokesperson said.

In 2019, youth donors make up 24% of the donor pool. Red Cross said it hopes to see more youth not only step forward to donate and make blood donation a part of their lifestyles, but also encourage more of their peers and those around to join them.

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