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Following the high profile programme by Opt for Life organ donation campaigners Joe Brolly and Shane Finnegan which successfully sought to impact organ donation procedure, policy & practice across the island of Ireland, Aiken was tasked with developing an initiative that built long term awareness of the proposition focusing on educating the public.

Research and Planning

Integral to the success of the campaign was leveraging research including:

  • Seventy eight percent (78%) of people agreed that it is important to discuss your donation wishes with your family and/or friends.
  • Eighty four percent (84%) of people in Northern Ireland supported the idea of organ donation yet the latest statistic reveals that 38% of families refuse to give consent to the donation of their loved one’s organs when faced with this choice.
  • Approximately 15 people die each year while waiting for a transplant
  • Family refusal in the leading organ donation countries, like Spain, is only 15%
  • Just over half (52%) of Northern Ireland people said they knew the donation wishes of their wife/husband/partner, and fewer knew the wishes of their parents (32%), siblings (27%), children (29%) or close friend (26%).
  • 33% of people are on the organ donation register in Northern Ireland

Integral to our initiative to ask your loved ones  was a creative but simple idea of developing an inaugural ‘Family Discussion Day’ at a time when families were coming together in the lead up to Christmas and encourage them to discuss the opportunity for saving lives that organ donation provides.


The first step in this process was to approach the Public Health Agency, the British Heart Foundation and the British Medical Association, three organisations that were supportive of organ donation and had their own individual initiatives throughout the year to support the process.

Our strategy successfully brought these organisations together for the first time on this issue and we co–ordinated a campaign that brought real credibility with its messaging which in our clients view was the most important in the organ donation process and one that everyone supported, irrespective on their view on the legislation. 

We wanted a launch with political stakeholders, NGO’s, medics, transplantees & those waiting on transplants in an informal family setting, to mirror the environment where families would have the discussion at home. We hosted the launch in Maryville Tea Rooms (2nd December).

Public affairs

Stakeholder engagement was the linchpin to the success of the campaign. While all organisations supported political engagement, Aiken  consistently drove the public affairs agenda, meeting with OFMDFM & the Health Minister to garner their support for the campaign. The FM, dFM & Health Minister confirmed their commitment to initiative (& attendance at launch, along with a number) of MLAs which resulted in political stakeholders across NI backing the campaign including Ministers MP’s, MLA’s & local councillors. All MLA’S were issued with a press release encouraging them to engage with their constituents, which was covered in regional press and social media.

Developing strapline & logo

A bespoke Family discussion day logo was developed for Dec 11 by the designer who worked pro bono (also designed the original Opt for Life logo). The strapline ‘Dec 11 Tell Your Loved Ones Your Wishes’ was agreed across OTL, PHA, BHF, BMA and included within all communications.

Traditional media

Key to the success of the campaign was meeting media and securing their editorial support for this goodwill initiative as we approached Christmas.

Aiken met with key news editors across print, broadcast and online to secure their support and agree calendar of coverage from (2nd to 11th). Media engagement was crucial to impacting the initiative with readers and listeners throughout the course of the week long campaign. Aiken provided media with agreed stories including case studies of those waiting on an organ transplant or those that had lost a loved one while waiting on a transplant.   We packaged the varying needs across print, broadcast and online. After engagement the Irish News also adopted the campaign over the Christmas period with a series of free ads and all coverage was accompanied by the strapline across all media.

Social media

Engagement across social media was vital to the success of the campaign and a key platform for communicating ‘Dec 11 Tell Your Loved Ones Your Wishes’ message. Maximising the social media channels available including those of PHA, BMA and BHF, we encouraged the public on Dec 11 to take a pic of their family and friends discussing organ donation and upload it to twitter and facebook using the #Dec11Tellyourlovedonesyourwishes. The campaign gained extensive traction across a range of social media platforms with local celebrities & political stakeholders all lending their support to the campaign.


  • Consistent messaging, case studies, press releases and key stats were uploaded across Public Health Agency, British Heart Foundation, British Medical Association & Opt for Life websites

Outcome and Outputs

  • 70 pieces of media coverage over the course of the one week campaign
  • 95% of coverage included a quote from a key spokesperson
  • 100% of coverage included contained image of key spokesperson
  • All print & broadcast media extensively covered story
  • FM, dFM, Health Minister, 7 other MLAs, medics and NGO’s all engaged and supported launch
  • 80% included Dec 11 logo and campaign #
  • MLAs and stakeholders tweeted about the campaign in the week leading up to the organ donation discussion day to over 200K followers with retweets from followers using #Dec11Tellyourlovedonesyourwishes