Hélène Campbell is 20 years old. You may have heard of her. She’s become something of a celebrity in the last month. She’s used social media to help her raise awareness of blood and organ donation.

Hélène has a degenerative lung disease and needs a double lung transplant.

With the help of friends, she’s taken an approach that reminds me of something Henry Winkler said at a talk he delivered in Ottawa a few years ago. He relayed the story of how the producers of Happy Days had been approached by the American Library Association to help promote library membership. They agreed and created an episode in which the Fonz gets a library card — “Hey Ritchie, you can get a library card, and they’re free.” He performed the quote complete with the unmistakable voice of his character. The room erupted. Then the payoff: Library memberships apparently skyrocketed across the United States.

With the help of some close friends, Hélène’s approach has been to produce videos explaining her situation, raising awareness of blood and organ donation and then making a simple call to action: on a specific date, tweet a message to a specific celebrity asking them to watch Hélène’s video and then help spread the word. The goal? #BeAnOrganDonor.

And it works!

On January 20th, after about 24 hours of tweets asking for his help, Justin Bieber answered the call (“@alungstory i got the word …. You have amazing strength. I got u. #BeAnOrganDonor”). Twitter lit up with roughly 23,000 tweets for Hélène that day alone. According to an MTV report, “Ontario-based Trillium Gift of Life Network has seen donations skyrocket to more than 1,200 people, four times the amount the network usually receives.”

Just like Arthur Fonzarelli and his library card.

Yesterday was the second stage in the campaign. The hope is to get Ellen DeGeneres on board in the same way.


Nearly 32,000 tweets with an estimated reach of 136 million impressions have been issued about Hélène in the last month. There have also been 661 blog mentions. Make that 662. Local media have been strong supporters of the campaign with @maulermauler leading the charge with 35 tweets.

There’s a lot to learn from how Hélène and her friends have structured this campaign including how they’ve pulled together the pieces of the digital ecosystem and how they’ve crafted a clear message and simple calls to action.

All analysis performed using Sysomos MAP. I’ll post more analysis after the the Ellen campaign winds down.