The Hero Gene. Do you Have it?

In healthcare advertising, we are always trying to find new ways to help patients. This is why AREA 23 partnered with Be the Match® to launch The Hero Gene Lab. And the experiment has been a success.

70% of blood cancer patients who require a life-saving bone marrow transplant don’t have an eligible match in their family. They need a stranger on the National Bone Marrow Database, Be The Match®, to come to their rescue. However, each year, more than 50,000 people are still left without a match. Knowing this, AREA 23 set out to grow the database.

How do you activate people who are eager to be life-saving heroes? The answer was found in the home of heroes, New York Comic Con (NYCC)—the East Coast’s largest pop culture, annual convention dedicated to the biggest fans of heroism and comics—where we invited attendees into the “laboratory” to find out if they had the DNA needed to save a life: The Hero Gene.

Over four days in October, AREA 23 gave more than 400 fans their own superhero origin story at “The Hero Gene Laboratory” convention booth. In the lab, these heroes swabbed their cheeks to see if they had the rare mutant gene that could make them a patient’s real-life hero and registered them with the National Bone Marrow Database. The team, official Hero Gene Scienticians, appealed to attendees in their own language, bringing their own nerdism to engage, excite and activate people in an authentic way.

Fellow NYCC booth exhibitor Leon, who opted to take the swab test, said it best: “I think what Hero Gene is doing is absolutely great. For those in need, Comic Con is a great place to start. There’s a little bit of a hero in all of us and to be able to find people who match bone marrow, here, is awesome.”

Attaching this cause to a timely, cultural event allowed AREA 23 to tap into an underrepresented, altruistic audience that was waiting for an opportunity to take a chance at saving a life, just like their superheroes do.