Gift of Life’s new ads use typography to unite blood cancer patients with marrow donors

DDB New York connects blood stem cell/bone marrow donors and transplant recipients visually through design

Published On
Apr 17, 2023
Gift of Life ads showing connected names Seth and Stewart, and Wayne and Marina

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DDB New York uses an elegant design solution to connect blood stem cell and bone marrow donors with recipients suffering from blood cancer in a new campaign raising awareness of Gift of Life’s marrow registry.

The vertical posters show two names—donor and recipient—connected by a shared letter in the middle. The ads above, for example, connect Seth and Stewart as well as Wayne and Marina. The ads lead to online content, including videos, through URLs that use that date of the recipient’s transplant—for example, and

Gift of Life ad showing connected names Seth and Stewart

“From the very beginning, we wanted the typography to be hero,” Jason Ashlock, executive creative director at DDB New York, told Ad Age. “The notion of two names perfectly paired felt so conceptually strong and simple. We stripped away everything else. It’s unadorned in a way that a lot of ads these days aren’t.” 

Ashlock said the ads are meant to be visually arresting but also somewhat enigmatic—“so that people have the space to decode the two names and connect the dots.” The films, he added, were shot in black and white to match the look and feel of the print work.

Gift of Life ad showing connected names Wayne and Marina

The design approach, in a way, actually mirrors the transplant procedure itself.

“It sounds crazy, but we learned that after a transplant, both the recipient and the donor end up sharing some of the same DNA. The recipient literally becomes an extension of the donor,” Ashlock said. “So, we looked for ways to visually connect them. What else could they share? What else could they give each other? Once we started putting names to these very real people, the idea for using typography came naturally.” 

Blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants require a near perfect genetic match. The odds of finding that match are slim—70 percent of patients do not have a related match and must search Gift of Life’s worldwide registry for a volunteer donor. 


Apr 17, 2023
Client :
Gift of Life
Agency :
DDB-New York
Chief Strategy and Operations Officer :
Marti Freund
Marketing Director :
Vanessa Gallegos
Project Manager :
Amy Glanzman
Chief Creative Officer :
Mat Bisher
Executive Creative Director :
Jason Ashlock
Executive Creative Director :
Paulo Junger
Creative Director :
Vinicius Fernandez
Creative Director :
Mussashi Shintaku
Creative Director :
Darla Price
Executive Director :
Alan Perlman
Head of Operations :
Amanda Maniscalco
Project Manager :
Georgina MacDonald
Head of Production :
Teri Altman
Producer :
Maya McGauley
Integrated Senior Producer :
Deirdre O'Sullivan
Production Company :
Director :
The Vortex

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