February Brief


Graham Douglas, Freelance Creative Director
Former Creative Director, Droga5




Feb 1, 2014

Submission Deadline:

Feb 28, 2014

A Little Backstory

Every year nearly 650,000 people around the world are diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma. For many of them a bone marrow/stem cell transplant is their last hope. But, sadly, less than half of those people find a match. And if they are a minority that number is even lower. Drastically lower, actually.


Because bone marrow donation is a numbers game, and we’re losing. There aren’t nearly enough people registered to be marrow donors. And I think this is nothing short of completely batshit crazy. 

To register as a marrow donor all it takes is a simple, quick, painless cheek swab and you’re added to a huge database of people that could save a life some day. And if enough people register, and the database grows, we can reach a point were anyone in the world will find a marrow transplant. We just need to make it easy and fun.

Your brief

We need to get swabs in peoples’ mouths. As simple as that.

We don’t your money.

We don’t your time.

We don’t want your organs.

We want you to take 10 seconds out of your busy life to rub a couple of swabs on your cheek and fill out a form.

Currently, “swab kits” can be ordered online on various non-profit’s sites. They’re also often handed out for free at bone marrow drives. I don’t care how you get the swabs into people’s mouth, as long as it ends in another, solid marrow registration. 


Without putting too many constraints on the project there are certain things you’ll need to include somewhere in the process, otherwise the registrations will be worthless. I suggest you order a swab kit online and go through the process yourself (try it here www.deletebloodcancer.org/register). Feel free to simply, but definitely include:

  • Personal information (name, age, birthdate, address, email, etc – the basic shit)
  • Agree to Terms (checkbox) 

A Target

The best folks for the registry are men or women 18-30. Why? Because you’re able to stay on the marrow registry until you’re 50 years old. So if we register people when they’re young, the power of that one registry will grow exponentially of years. 

Now, notice I said “a target,” not “the target.” If you stumble across an amazing ground of 35-year-olds who could turn the tide on marrow registration, I’m all for it.

Some references

My favorite marrow organization:


Stats & info:

“Help I want to save a life” initiative:

“Help I want to save a life”

In one way or another, I’ve been working on this brief for more than a decade. And after many, many, many, so-goddamn-many failed attempts, I finally had one stick last year.

It was called “Help I want to save a life,” and the idea was simple. Rather than making people go out of their way to give us a speck of their DNA let’s find them when they’re already giving it. When they’re bleeding.

We put a marrow registration kit into boxes of over-the-counter bandage and created a product-based initiative. And in doing so we were able to raise awareness of the issue, reach a new, younger group of people and, most importantly, register a number of new people.

But it wasn’t without some major complications and learnings. We learned that blood wasn’t the ideal medium for collecting these samples. We learned that people wanted a bit more information before they signed up for something like this. We learned that people still hear “marrow” and think of scary things.

All things to keep in the back of your mind as you’re digging into this one. 

About Graham Douglas

Graham Douglas grew up in Fort Worth, TX with an identical twin brother named Britton and an obese beagle named Sam. His porn star name is Sam Constitution. 

He spent the formative years of his life playing music and hockey and avoiding all forms of writing before going to the University of North Texas. There, Graham completely backed into advertising and has been stuck ever since. 

He landed his first job in Dallas but eventually left for stints in Miami, Minneapolis, Chicago, Amsterdam and L.A., where he spent several sunny years at 180. Graham is currently going on three years at Droga5 in New York where he is a Creative Director.

In his career Graham has been recognized by Cannes, The One Show, The TED Global Conference, Creativity, The Clios, The Webbys, The FWA, D&AD, The Effies, AICP and the Advertising Softball League of Los Angeles. Most notably, he was lucky enough to be named one of the “World’s 50 Most Creative People” by Creativity, one of Forbes Magazine's "30 Under 30" and take home both the Cannes Grand Prix for Good and the D&AD White Pencil.

Graham has worked on things like adidas, Puma, Spotify, Prudential, DKMS, UNICEF, The New Museum, Sony, Boost Mobile, Kraft, Activision, BMW, Ford, Coca-Cola, Seventh Generation, and countless candies and liquors.

Graham is 6-feet 5-inches tall with a strong Scottish accent and an obsession with lifting.