The letters O and A went missing from signage of New Zealand's top companies and charities yesterday and around the world in a life-saving bid for blood.
Medical blood collection agencies in 21 countries latched on to a highly successful marketing campaign, called Missing Type, which had its first run in Britain last year.
Global megabrands such as McDonald's, Google, Coca-Cola and Microsoft were among businesses which removed the letters from their websites, Twitter handles and signage to help promote the UK National Health Service's appeal for new blood donors last year.
More than 30,000 people registered to donate.
This year, the NZ Blood Service received commitments from several brands to join the campaign in a bid to sign up 10,000 eligible donors.
The Bay of Plenty Times will this week be speaking to people whose lives have been saved by blood donors and people who have donated, as part of our campaign, Bloody Good Type.
Others, including Pak'nSave, New World, Tip Top, nzherald.co.nz, bayofplentytimes.co.nz and other NZME regional newspaper websites, removed Os and As from their online logos yesterday , either on their websites or Facebook. The Bay of Plenty Times print edition also featured just the outlines of the letters A and O in its masthead yesterday.
Some organisations are participating all week.
The Blood Service said the supermarket chains are this week removing Os and As from the subject lines of emails to loyalty card scheme members. TradeMe has created missing-type advertisements for its website.
The owners of several iconic advertising installations - including the hillside "Wellington" sign above the capital's airport, the L&P bottle in Paeroa and the Ohakune carrot - had agreed to remove the letters from digital images during the campaign.
But as part of the top secret move, the brands provided no explanation until this morning, confusing many readers and consumers.
The Child Cancer Foundation wrote on its Facebook page: "Wh-t d- y-u think is g-ing -n? W-uldn't y-u like to kn-w! Watch this space to find out more #MissingType #NZBlood."
The Starship Foundation wrote: "W-uldn't y-u like t- kn-w!"
In the UK last year, B was also removed from wording.
"We're not going 'B'," said Blood Service chief executive Sam Cliffe.
"The UK have a higher percentage who are B+. Our real need is As and Os."
In New Zealand, 85 per cent of people are A or O, meaning their kind of blood is in greatest demand.
Fewer than four per cent of eligible Kiwis donate blood. The Blood Service has around 110,000 blood donors on its database and about 42,000 people a year receive blood products. Every year around 28,000 drop off the donor registry.
"We also want to look at getting young donors," said Cliffe.
"If we get them at high school or school-leaving age, often they stay life-long."
The number of active donors has decreased from 128,412 in the 2011 financial year, to 109,158 last year, according to the service's annual report.
In part this reflects changes in the way blood products are used, but that does not eliminate the need for new donors to join up.
Cliffe said fewer whole-blood donors were needed, but rapidly rising demand for products made from plasma - a component of blood comprising mainly water, plus proteins, hormones and clotting factors - meant more plasma-only donors were needed.
To become a plasma-only donor, which carries additional eligibility criteria, new donors must first give a unit of whole blood.
Last year more than 59,000kg of plasma, up from 49,000kg in 2011, was sent to a laboratory in Melbourne for processing into blood products for use in New Zealand. The NZ Blood Service produced some 112,000 units of red blood cells last year, down from 138,000 in 2011.
HOW TO DONATE
Visit the NZ Blood Service website for a list of donor sites and to see whether you are eligible http://www.nzblood.co.nz/give-blood/where-to-donate/
* Tell us your story, email email@example.com
They want your blood
110,000 - Kiwis are active blood donors
42,000 - People receive blood or blood products each year
3000 - Blood donations required each week to keep up with demand
10,000 - the number of new donors wanted in campaign
5 litres - Typical adult's quantity of blood
470 ml - Quantity of blood taken in one donation
5 to 14 minutes - How long a typical donation takes
1 billion - red blood cells in 3 drops of blood
28% - of blood products are used to treat cancer
18% - for accident victims
6% - for babies and pregnant women
3 - the number of people's lives which can be saved by one blood donation
Plasma - fluid, mainly water, plus nutrients, proteins, hormones, clotting factors
Red blood cells - carrying oxygen is their main job
White blood cells - immune system cells to defend the body against infections
Platelets - cell particles that help the blood to clot
Missing As and Os
These businesses removed or will remove the letters from their logos on social media or websites
Bay of Plenty Times
L&P bottle in Paeroa
Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand