The NHS Wants the Blood of Our Young Men and is Pulling out All the Stops to Get It

By Shabana Arif on at

The NHS is using tried-and-tested marketing techniques to target men because it desperately needs their blood, and the fact that it's shoehorning in football references wherever it can proves it means business.

There are a number of differences between men and women when it comes to their life juices, and as the number of men donating blood has dropped by 25 per cent over the last five years, the NHS is keen to get them back on board and is resorting to notions of heroism and patriotism to do so, but it's for a good cause, so let's just all shush and let them get on with it, because it works.

Men are highly desirable because they can donate more frequently than women, they have less instances of iron deficiency - what with not bleeding out uncontrollably once a month - which is a reason for turning donors away, and they have less antibodies in their blood which means it'll be more easily received into patients' bodies. So dwindling male donors is not an ideal scenario.

“Research tells us that men are more motivated by the hero aspect of donation than women, they like to look like heroes, like they’ve achieved something,” explained Nadine Eaton, head of blood marketing for NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT). “So we need to appeal to that more.”

Eaton speculates that relying on emotional appeals in ads may explain the lack of men signing up, and why women outnumber them by 100,000 on the blood donor register.

"Say you’ve got an image of a child who’s very unwell and needs a blood transfusion – we find women take on a more maternal view and want to act in some way, whereas with men, they tend to put themselves in the situation of: what if I need blood?” said NHS blood marketing manager, Tom Aggett.

The latest efforts to woo the burlier sex includes appeals to "bleed for the country you love," and running sports-themed ads around sports programming to hit the desired demographic.

"We want to avoid stereotypes and make it clear that all genders are welcome to donate – but we only ever go where the data is driving us,” Aggett added. “If the audience split for a certain programme is 70 per cent male then obviously it makes sense for us to target that. And if it’s a sports programme, then it makes sense for our ad to be sports-related too.”

At the tail end of last year, the number of male blood donors went from 37 per cent to almost 40, and to bolster its efforts, the NHS has also discussed the possibility of a reward system that includes treats that men just can't say no to. Like free coffee mugs, apparently. I guess they're saving the free socks for when things get really dire. [Wired]