A little girl walks upto a man in a cafe. She has come to say, “Thank you“. The man is curious, smiling at the cute girl. “Why thank you?”, he wants to know. He is probably a bachelor. Appears kind enough, happy to indulge a kid. Maybe, even happy at the idea of someone thinking he has done something good.

She explains. “I have Thalassemia” (I had to look up the spelling of this blood disorder). The girl has a believable stutter as she struggles to pronounce the word. She is a little shy, swaying her body and wringing her hands. To survive she depends on people like this man donating blood. She doesn’t know who they are individually. So, she goes around thanking everyone she meets.

Reminds me of watching a kid in an US airport walking upto an Army cadet and thanking him for his service. Only, that kid was a bit more composed, but then she wasn’t being told the man hadn’t risked his life to serve the nation. The man did deserve her gratitude.

Anyway, our middle class bachelor in the clip is embarrassed. Dazed. Blurts out, “I haven’t donated blood before“.  Awkward pause. One can see it all going downhill. A lecture coming up? The girl is quick to come up with a solution. No problem! There is always a next time. This thank you is for that one, she improvises.

A short voiceover on the necessity of blood donation and then a shot of the girl lifted high in the arms of the man. “Karke dekho (Do it)“, she tells us with a sweet smile. “Accha lagta hai (It feels good)“, the likable sort of fellow agrees. A disarming genuine responsible smile lights up his face.

Almost 3 years since BBC released the advertisement in 2012. All these years I have walked passed blood donation booths with some sheepish excuse, but I do remember this ad each time. These two made the cause sweet , believable and promising. They didn’t make me uncomfortable, sad or guilty. There is an honesty and endearing quality in the storyline. It isn’t a duty. No, it is simply something that will make you feel good.

And most importantly the actors managed to convince me that getting poked by a needle, loosing blood and a self concocted slight spell of probable weakness is all worth it. Will make me feel good about myself; like I have done something worthwhile.

The only other ad campaigns for similar causes that I remember are two more. The first being Aishwarya Rai’s iconic plea. The lady with the most beautiful eyes in the world was going to donate them after her death, so someone else could see the beautiful world around. It had the whole of India talking. And, then Doordarshan followed up with Amitabh and Jaya. Conicdentally, they turned out to be Aishwarya’s in-laws.

While watching House, I realized you can donate practically everything within and over your body. Even skin! But, eyes and blood donation will always be synonymous to these ads. And the first one in this list, never fails to make me feel like dashing to the nearest blood bank.

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