The Challenge


How might we increase the number of registered bone marrow donors to help save more lives? read the brief


15 year old boy + famous singer + story telling = spreading the word

Finding an 'ordinary' person who has had experience of bone marrow surgery (?) got through it and teaming them with a celebrity to tell a story can be powerful. Keenan, a 15 year old American kid with a genetic disease which required a bone marrow transplant has become incredibly famous for impersonating famous singers! His YouTube videos have been watched by millions of viewers and celebrities are wanting to make videos with him.
I first watched the YouTube video of Keean because a friend emailed me the link to a funny 'Friday song' he sends around. I laughed so much when I saw this kid lip singing to Katy Perry's 'teenage dream' song, then realised that 50Cent had appeared in one video and that the kid had his own website and appeared on tv.

'Keenan was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease at the age of one called MPS Type 6 (see full description below). Keenan underwent a bone marrow transplant in 1997 to slow down the progression of the disease'

He's funny.... a bit silly... has a real genetic disease... has had a bone marrow transplant (ok, this is much more extreme than simply donating bone marrow but he's someone who needed someone else's bone marrow)... has survived and managed to make himself famous by using a free online web platform!

If 50 Cent is happy to appear on a video with him, how about we find a suitable celebrity (singer) to appear with someone like Keenan and find a story teller who can write a clever song for them to perform. The message can be spread via youtube, the problem can be demystified and a mixture of 'real life' and 'celebrity' is a fantastic way to bring the problem home in a fun way. The story telling would need to be good and effective and the stars would need to be believable.

The David Guetta YouTube video that I have selected is interesting as he holds up signs to help reiterate words and sentences when he wants to get a message across.

Following all the supportive comments, here are some further thoughts on how to develop this concept.
Sina's 'Interactive You Tube' concept is a fantastic way to combine the celebrity and storytelling with fun that the viewer can engage with rather than just watch. I mentioned the use of signage and making particular words stand out similar to the messages that David Guetta uses - could the celebrity hold up signs which the viewer clicks on depending on whether they want to learn from the recipient or donors point of view? The story can then change angle depending on what information is wanted.

The video on YouTube of 50Cent 'swabbing' for DKMS is a great grounding for using someone like him as the celebrity - he's well known, confident (!), has a real status among the younger generation (a generation who would be good to target) and has a personal link with leukemia. I personally think the video badly explains the process though. It's very dry, doesn't really engage and is too factual.

How about getting QTip (genius idea!), Nelly and 50Cent to all be part of it and use the interactive video to take you to their different sections. Maybe QTip could be the introduction, Nelly could do the piece for recipients and 50Cent do the piece for donors?

It is also important to have links in the video so that people can click further for more information. This could be another sign that is held up rather than a simple link at the end (incase people don't watch through the entire video?)

The video MUST:
- be engaging,
- use humour to demystify the process
- use the celebrities personality to get across a memorable message
- encourage people to actually become a donor, not jus talk about it.

If a game element was introduced, the 1000 person to click on the link and sign up as a donor could meet these celebrities.

~ BUILD 2 ~
@100kCheeks made an excellent suggestion that a 'catchy' ring tone could be composed for mobile phones. Think how horribly memorable the 'crazy frog' ring tone was? A not so annoying yet fun, memorable, money making ring tone would build on the awareness and make money for the cause.
Which barrier(s) does your concept address?
  1. Cost
  2. Fear
  3. Misunderstanding
  4. Time
  5. Feeling rushed
  6. Cultural beliefs
How easy is this concept to implement?
This might take a bit of planning and probably some help from several partners.
Which step(s) of the journey does your concept apply to?
  1. Awareness
  2. Registration
  3. Donation
  4. Spread the word
Will this concept successfully reach and encourage under-represented populations (including South Asians) to join the bone marrow registry?
Yes, this concept will resonate with diverse groups of people from all over the world.
How well does this concept dispel myths, ease fears, or provide education about bone marrow registration and donation?
Really well -- I already feel like I have a better understanding of the process and why it's important.
How scalable is this concept?
This concept is highly scalable and could easily impact people all over the world.
Tell us any additional comments you might have about this concept.
the concept simply needs to find a suitable celebrity and a good story teller to write the script!


Join the conversation and post a comment.

Jenine Durland

October 19, 2012, 18:08PM
I'm just seeing this--and Keenan!--for the first time and wanted to say thanks for that (over a year later--thanks internet)! A pleasure. There's something special about the video you chose here, something that seems rare in other collaborations I've seen btwn similar duos...there's genuine 'play' there, enjoyment on both ends. I don't see pity, I see mutual respect. The point where David makes the heart with his hands, that feels real. So often pairings like this feel promotional...a never-ending design challenge I suppose!

Arjan Tupan

April 08, 2011, 14:12PM
Haha, Angelique Kidjo is a personal favorite, and K'naan made fame last year during the World Cup in South Africa. His song also featured in the Coca Cola commercials.

Louise Wilson

April 08, 2011, 12:39PM
You've got me there, Arjan. I will need to YoubTube them ;-)

Arjan Tupan

April 08, 2011, 12:15PM
How about an artist like Angelique Kidjo or K'naan. His Wavin' Flag song was very catchy.

Louise Wilson

April 08, 2011, 11:42AM
Yes Arjan! Bollywood is an ace idea - it is sooooo fun and engaging and perfect for the South Asian audience. Just need a theme/celeb for the African audience....

Arjan Tupan

April 08, 2011, 10:36AM
Louise, just gave you a great evaluation. What a great concept, very well connecting a bone marrow recipient celebrity with promotion. You could also think of involving Bollywood actors in another version. I think that would resonate well with South Asian audiences.
Anyway, another campaign by that inspired me to a concept, was the In my name campaign. Maybe it's the same as Sina is referring to. For a link to that, see my concept: - it has the In my name video in it.

Louise Wilson

April 07, 2011, 13:28PM
Sina, do you have a link for the 'yes we can' video? I wonder if Beyonce would do a single-ladies-bone-marrow dance which everyone wants to copy!

Another thing that comes to mind is once this video has gone viral, everyone will want to be part of it. Could Keenan and the celebrity run a competition which lets other people compete to show their bone marrow story song? Everyone that enters could have to swab first.... Maybe I'm going off track now ;-)

Sina Mossayeb

April 07, 2011, 13:19PM
i like how this pairs the attention driving force of celebrity, an the real personage of someone in need or has benefited from donating and receiving donation. there is a lot of potential power here. what about a video like the "yes we can" video by great work Louise!

Louise Wilson

April 07, 2011, 08:59AM
Thanks for all your helpful comments and links. I'm about to build on this idea further incorporating them.

Louise Wilson

April 06, 2011, 07:49AM
Hi Carola, I hope it doesn't look like I'm saying surgery is always necessary - the point of using Keenan as an example is because he's had a bone marrow problem and the concept works around him. Yes, he has had surgery but the aim is just to find someone who has been affected to explain that a simple thing like a swab could help someone like them!

Carola Ponce

April 05, 2011, 22:22PM
An observation from your descriptions: donors or recipients don't have to go through surgery, most of the treatment is done intravenous. It's important to demystify the process so that people are less fearful of it.

Carola Ponce

April 05, 2011, 22:19PM
Another good celebrity supporting the cause could be Nelly. His sister lost her battle with Leukemia a few years ago.

aparna wilder

April 05, 2011, 21:12PM
And I can't help but think of Q-Tip as a cool celebrity partner. His name really does fit the cause in many ways.

Louise Wilson

April 02, 2011, 09:30AM
Hi Amie, to answer your questions, I said it needed a clever story to be written that can be included in the video so that the kid can get a message across. People relate to songs, repeat them and see people like this as a role model. This is a concept that needs refining.

Amie Mills

April 01, 2011, 23:12PM
I'm not making the connection between clever cut through video humour and awareness-raising around bone marrow transplants? I'm also not sure how it addresses the fear and misunderstandings surrounding such transplants.

An Old Friend

April 01, 2011, 20:49PM
Thank you for sending the link! I think this exactly the right combination of a story and visual medium that will get people to pay attention.

Louise Wilson

March 31, 2011, 22:46PM
Thanks for the links, Ashely and Jonathan. Your links are really helpful for building on this concept. I had no idea of 50cents work with DKMS! #lovelearning

Jonathan Haupt

March 31, 2011, 21:57PM
Humor always helps get the message out. I think getting 50 Cent to join in is a real possibility. He's already aware about the need from his work with DKMS

Ashley Jablow

March 31, 2011, 21:55PM
What a great find Louise! I am so impressed by Keenan's story and loved this video. Perhaps there's a way to build on Sina's concept about YouTube to create a simulation video that features the musical stylings of Keenan?
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