Q&A: How are Penny Smith and Sophie Ellis-Bextor helping to get people giving blood?

Would you buy a Kate Moss lipstick? A Cheryl Cole perfume? How about a Holly Willoughby dress? Celebrity endorsement is a known marketing tool for increasing sales of consumer goods but how about getting people to donate blood?

Kate Moss has been the face of cosmetic company Rimmel for over ten years. (Image via wikimedia commons)

Newsreader and TV presenter-turned-author Penny Smith and model-turned-singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor have both put their names to blood donor recruitment campaigns. We found out more.

Why are celebrities used?

Basically people are interested in celebrities and what they are doing, which makes newspapers and magazines more likely to print an article on a donation campaign if they can include a picture of a celebrity too.

The organisation behind the marketing campaigns, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), use celebrities to encourage certain groups of people to donate.

Spokesperson Jonathon Selwell explains: “We have to make sure they relate to the age group we are trying to target.

“Penny Smith and Sophie Ellis Bexter will obviously appeal to different parts of the demographic which allows us to the target our marketing appropriately; using appropriate celebrities then we gain access to the media channels that that particular audience would use.”

Who does NHSBT target?

There are four main marketing groups which are targeted in campaigns.

Jonathon explains these are:

New parents are specifically targeted by NHSBT as they often have first hand experience of the importance of blood in hospitals (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

  • Youth and students: aged 17 – 21
  • Active adults: a wide group aged 21 – 45
  • New parents: who may have recently visited hospitals and to have first hand experience of the need for blood and how vital it is for saving lives

So why do celebrities get involved?

Jonathon says: “Often the people who we use have personal reasons for getting involved with NHSBT in the first place, so it is a really good example of people using previous experience to help support the cause.”

Celebrities often give their time for free, making it a win-win situation for NHS Blood and Transplant.

What Penny Smith has to say:

Penny Smith supported the Christmas campaign and gave blood at the West End Donor Centre in London. She said:

“I have been a regular blood donor since I was 18, and love having a nice lie down and a biscuit while feeling terribly virtuous. I’m so pleased that I’m able give blood this Christmas and have already made my appointment to do it again in 2012.

“Giving blood is simple for the donor but it’s life‐changing for the patient who receives it. 7,000 donations are needed every day to make sure there’s enough blood for those who need it. Make your New Year’s resolution a lifesaving one ‐ give blood.”

Sophie Ellis-Bextor, 32, has had nine top 20 UK chart hits. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

What Sophie Ellis-Bexor has to say:

Sophie Ellis-Bextor gave blood for the first time during National Blood Week of summer 2011. She said:

“NHS Blood and Transplant needs 230,000 new blood donors every year to make sure blood stock levels are maintained. I gave blood for the first time this year and plan on becoming a regular donor.

Why don’t you join me and make it your New Year’s Resolution to give blood regularly? It’s free, you’ll save lives, and it’s a resolution you’ll actually want to keep!”


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