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The power of positivity

‘A team of one’: basketball-themed campaign is helping to remove the taboo around organ donation in China through the story of 16-year-old organ donor Ye Sha
‘A team of one’: basketball-themed campaign is helping to remove the taboo around organ donation in China through the story of 16-year-old organ donor Ye Sha

How charity campaigns (partnered by Tencent) in China axed the 'guilt trip'

For a long time, charitable initiatives in China remained small in scale and in donation volume. ‘A team of one’ and ‘Mission enlightening’ went viral because they broke away from the conventions of seeking sympathy by showing hardship.

Rather than throw a pity party – as is the case with a lot of charity ads – both ‘A team of one’ and ‘Mission enlightening’ issued calls for public participation in welfare projects in a more positive, and even enjoyable, way.

A work of outstanding merit, ‘A team of one’ popularised organ donation – a taboo topic in China – by skilfully repurposing the story of ‘Ye Sha’, a Chinese teenager who died at the age of 16 and whose organs were donated by his parents to benefit seven people. This is precious, considering that China has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the world, with a ratio of supply to demand of 1:30.

Knowing that the young donor was a basketball lover, in 2018 executive creative director Jacky Lung invited five of the organ recipients to form a team named after Ye. With the help of Tencent Marketing Solution and the China Organ Donation Administrative Centre, he and the team released an H5 (mobile) campaign, created by Lung, as they sought to fulfil the donor’s dream: to play on a professional basketball court.

Tencent’s WeChat Moments, Tencent News, Tencent Video, Mobile QQ, Qzone, QQ Browser, WeSing, WeSecure, and Tencent Wifi Manager were all out in full force promoting the campaign. It caught the attention of the Chinese basketball community and Yao Ming, chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association. The story of Team Ye Sha also captured the imagination of the Chinese public – so much so that it netted 220 million impressions, 70,000 signatures of support, and a four-minute CCTV news-broadcast segment.

No longer a taboo, organ donation is drawing widespread attention in China, with more people volunteering to register their own organs. Through the H5, more than 150,000 new donors have registered – a 400% increase since 2017. With focused media coverage and match promotion, the China Organ Donation Administrative Centre received 990,000 registered donors by Q1 2019, with numbers still rising at the time of writing.

Climbing the donation mountain
Meanwhile, Tencent’s ‘Mission enlightening’ campaign raised interest in charity through gamification, with each gamer’s participation bringing about a new wave of shareable content – and donations. In the most mountainous areas of China, there are no streetlights. So, to arrive at school on time, rural children have to walk in the dark with a flashlight, facing the risk of falling rocks and other perils. The China Volunteer Service Foundation is raising money for solar lamps to light the rugged mountain roads, but the progress has been slow.

Hylink Guangzhou, with Tencent Foundation and Tencent Marketing Solution, co-created the first welfare-themed WeChat adventure game to encourage one-renminbi (RMB) donations to ‘buy’ streetlight props. In the game, more cash means more virtual streetlights to illuminate its virtual mountainous paths. A gamer leaderboard also attracted players keen on using real renminbi to improve their game scores. Tencent’s rationale for the campaign was: instead of guilt-tripping the public into donating, why not make donating fun? The strategy was a success: the number of players exceeded 1.29 million, and, at its peak, the game clocked up 320,000 active gamers a day.

The total of $268,000 raised exceeded the initial target by 300%. This meant the amount donated could go towards setting up solar lamps in 30 villages. ‘Mission enlightening’ also nabbed the best mini game prize at the China YouDing Awards for breaking new ground in the gaming world.

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