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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DurgaSMarch 8, 2016 at 12:58 am
I remember these Rhea. Subtle way to convey something important. People take time to take steps towards these matters. I am yet to do it too. Hoping I get there, in time.
rhea sinhaMarch 8, 2016 at 12:24 pm
Thank you for reading Durga di. Hope this post makes you, me and others take a step in this direction. I always think of signing up to donate my organs or something, but have never actually taken the step. Hoping I get there, in time, just like you.
Archana popliMarch 8, 2016 at 2:07 am
I loved this anecdote of doing good ,since you live in the us as do I ,you may have seen the hate advertising going around ,and today ad are not as meaningful ,or the content is not about our value system anymore it’s about money and power ,,
rhea sinhaMarch 8, 2016 at 12:29 pm
Hi Archana so true what you say about the ads in US. I have to say they feel so dumb at times and pointless bashing at each other. Some of them downright silly. I remember Tide in India took on Surf Excel by name (I think those were the brands), I couldn’t believe it. When I moved to the US I realised how common this was. In contrast a lot of new and old ads from India really leave a mark and even make us happy. Hope we can write some more posts like this one.
indrani robbinsMarch 8, 2016 at 8:48 am
never seen that ad, rhea… good to read about it. yeah, guilt trip always bothersome. instead a simple truth… you’ll like it, is the promise. nice. i remember rushing across and giving blood at the blood donation camp they had in our college years ago. i did it not for any noble reason… the motivation was a good looking guy. he was one of the young people taking the blood (this was a students’ health home campaign and er i still remember his name), the very thought of that had me dolling up and heading straight for the scary needle. i can tell ya, the experience was fun… and yeah, achha lagna, feeling good was what it was really about. lovely piece… thanks.
rhea sinhaMarch 8, 2016 at 12:34 pm
aah good looking boy can be quite the motivation di. Thanks for liking the write up. I like the refreshing change from a heavy handed msg to something simple and sweet. You know these days a lot of videos doing the round on internet about loving couples or children dying from cancer or some ailment. To me after a point they have all started feeling the same. Taking such a topic and tugging at the heart making something sad is easy, but making one hopeful with a promise.. This ad did that and has stuck with me. Plus like I was telling you, the actor has a likable genuine presence.
indrani robbinsMarch 8, 2016 at 12:53 pm
you’re right about those ads. and hope… light happy hope, that we hold onto despite everything, always a great motivator.
ZsoltMarch 9, 2016 at 2:16 am
That’s quite a coincidence. One of the podcasts I listen to just had a 4 episode mini-series about a lady who donated a kidney to a stranger. Pokes around the same ideas of altruism, guilt, weighing your sacrifice to others’ gain… Something to consider for your commute maybe.
The show’s website: http://www.storycentral.org/strangers/ (search “Elizabeth and Mary, Part 1”)
Or on iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/strangers/id490297492?mt=2
rhea sinhaMarch 10, 2016 at 1:48 pm
Hi Zsolt Good to see you here and now I am doubly glad I translated the ad into my words.. Thank you for reading and commenting. Will listen to the podcast. You know sometimes there are crimes committed where the steal people’s kidneys or other organs. Horrific to even hear, isn’t it? I haven’t actually taken out time to go to the blood donation drives around SLU. There was one in Port 99 that I missed and felt bad about. Hope I make it there next time.
ZsoltMarch 13, 2016 at 2:20 am
Wow, good for you… I tried in Port99, but anybody who lived in Europe for more than a year cannot donate blood in the US. I think they are worried about mad cow. Probably not a concern for people who lived in India. So I can just thank for your donation!