Unilad brings real blood to streets of London in policy change plea

Campaign calls for new government to change blood-donation policies for gay and bisexual men.

Unilad: campaign features blood that cannot be used to save lives due to government policy
Unilad: campaign features blood that cannot be used to save lives due to government policy

LadBible Group's Unilad has created an out-of-home campaign using real blood in protest of the UK’s blood-donation policies regarding gay and bisexual men.

Created in partnership with Elvis and pressure group Freedom to Donate as part of the platform’s #BloodWithoutBias initiative, the campaign features blood donated to Unilad's "Illegal blood bank" last month (14 November) that saw gay and bisexual men give blood in spite of government policies that only allow them to donate if they abstain from sex for three months.

Assessing potential donors based on their behaviour, such as whether they’d had a new partner in the past three months, 100% of blood taken was found to be safe to use.

However, as the blood could not be used to save lives, it has been displayed at locations throughout London today (18 December), including outside parliament and at Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street. The work was created by Rhys Hughes and Barret Helander.

"This blood is on the government’s hands," the out-of-home ad reads, before encouraging the public to end donation discrimination via the campaign’s website

"We believe it’s our responsibility to leverage our social reach to raise awareness about the issues that matter to young people," Nick Hodgkins, brand marketing lead at LadBible Group, said.

"With the government maintaining power, we need to ensure the support and passion people showed for the 'Illegal blood bank' didn’t go to waste and that the government continues to hear us calling for change.

"We want to help achieve equality in the blood-donation system, where anyone who can safely donate blood is able to do so, and pave the way for blood without bias across the board."

The campaign has seen gay and bisexual men pledge more than 3,750 pints of blood (provided there's a change in government policy) and more than 60,000 sign a petition supporting a change in policy to bring new donors into the system.

With donations traditionally set to drop during the Christmas season, this marks the first campaign LadBible Group has launched for Unilad since it acquired its former rival in October 2018.

Ethan Spibey, founder of Freedom to Donate, said: "The response we received to the 'Illegal blood bank' was amazing, and Unilad and Elvis were instrumental in helping us bring our message to the masses. 

"It’s of paramount importance that we ensure blood is safe for transmission and we’re now one step closer to demonstrating there’s alternative models which can help to identify eligible blood donors from all communities."

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