Black comedy might not seem like the obvious place to start when encouraging organ donation, but a new campaign from Donate Life from The Martin Agency takes this route and does it brilliantly.
A short film features "The World's Biggest Asshole," a guy named Coleman F. Sweeney, who's portrayed to sleazy perfection by actor Thomas Jane. As we watch him go about his daily business of being obnoxious, which includes giving small kids cigarettes, stealing other people's laundry and being mean to animals, children and disabled people, a voiceover (by actor Will Arnett ) explains how everyone in his small town knew he was an asshole.
However, the film is building up to a twist: after his untimely death while arguing over a diner meal, Sweeney, his waitress discovers on his license that he's signed to be an organ donor. His parts go on to save the lives of a diverse group of good people -- including a kindergarten teacher and a veteran -- and the final scene shows them all at his graveside paying tribute to him.
The film ends with the words: "Even an asshole can save a life."
Impeccably directed by Speck and Gordon via Furlined, the film will run online, with OOH work running in select markets. The campaign also features a mural.
The strategy behind the campaign is to reframe a conversation most people want to ignore in order to motivate people to sign up to become an organ donor. Donate Life has seen a drop in millennials signing the paperwork to agree to be an organ donor in recent years. According to the organization, 120,000 men, women & children are awaiting organ donation in the U.S. right now. The campaign is designed to act as a wakeup call that will reinforce how easy saving a life can be, while pointing out that almost anyone can do it -- even a total jerk.