Randal Ford says Donate Life America’s Give Me a Heart campaign isn’t the first pro bono project he’s ever done, but it is certainly the most significant both in size and the campaign’s end goal; to help get hearts for the more than 4,000 Americans on the donor list.
“This was a project that Ogilvy & Mather in Chicago wanted to take on for Donate Life America. Though the registration process is super easy, there are still a lot of people who haven’t registered to become a donor. They wanted to promote awareness so that more people can get a heart or any other organ when they need it,” he says.
Randal enlisted several crew members who also gave their time freely to the project. They photographed people in three cities over three days; Austin, Dallas, and Houston. The photographs are being used on the group’s Instagram account to draw attention to the need for organ donors.
Donate Life America says 90% of people support organ donation, but only 50% of people are registered. While your family can make the decision to donate your organs in the unlikely or unfortunate event that something happens to you, by registering as a donor ahead of time you can ease the burden of that difficult decision.
Now, Instagram users can make giving a heart on Instagram actually mean giving someone a heart. When users double tap on an image, a large heart appears. By clicking it, they give a heart (“like”) to the subject, and then a link appears, which takes them to a page where they can quickly and easily register as an organ donor.
In addition to the still photographs, they also interviewed the subjects for a video, which has been shared on Facebook. The subjects, each of whom is either waiting for a heart transplant or had recently had one, speaks about their experience.
Randal says shooting the campaign was remarkably rewarding because of the connections made with the subjects.
“This project is particularly rewarding because I’m developing a connection with real people that I wouldn’t otherwise have connected with—and these people are literally waiting on a heart. It was kind of an emotional experience for me, and it was a really great way to get to know these people and hear their story,” Randal says.
One of the subjects photographed and interviewed was a little boy by the name of Gavin who had been waiting for a heart for seven years. “When were interviewing all of these patients, one of the questions was, ‘What will you do when you get a new heart?’ When we asked Gavin, he said, ‘Run.’ He’s never gotten to run and play hard on a playground because of his heart condition. That was really touching to me,’” Randal recalls.
The good news is that just a few weeks ago, Gavin finally got his heart.
“It is commonly expressed by industry peers when talking about advertising, ‘We’re not saving lives’, but the campaign for DonateLife might be one of the few instances where we actually are helping to save lives. And that sense of purpose inspires me not only in my philanthropic work but also commercial work.” says Randal.
Randal is a donor himself, but he says he was embarrassed to admit that during the shoot he wasn’t sure if he was or not, and had to check his driver’s license to find out. If you’re not yet a donor, visit the Donate Life campaign page to register.