In the world of advertising, the opportunities to do great work that does great good are often few and far between. (Excepting cause agencies, of course. Or hopefully.) Pro bono work, which often offers the promise of creative freedom wrapped in noble purpose, too frequently devolves into a one-off poster or an invitation to a Diamonds & Denim charity ball. Sure, it’s worthwhile stuff, but the impact just isn’t as big as most of us would like. In my 17 years as an ad flunky, I’ve done numerous pro bono bits, but only one campaign – a three-year run for the United Way of Kansas City – really made a verifiable difference in people’s everyday lives.

Now, I have another chance to be a very small part of something much bigger than myself. And all because of two words I wrote for an account that wasn’t mine at an agency I was soon to depart. The client was (and is) Taylor’s Gift, a non-profit dedicated to registering as many organ donors as possible, and founded in the wake of a terrible accident – the loss of 13-year-old Taylor Storch. As an organ donor herself, Taylor’s gifts allowed others to live. And through the efforts of her family and the foundation they started, thousands or even millions more will get that second chance at life, too.

Back when my former agency was producing some initial work for Taylor’s Gift, I was asked to work on some outdoor ideas since the lead team was busy with other pieces. Wanting to keep things as simple and provocative as possible, I hit upon the line “Outlive Yourself.” The client loved it, and the line eventually make its way onto a billboard. But that was not to be the end of its usefulness.

@taylorsgift on Twitter, I one day noticed that, in addition to their motto hashtag #beahero, they were also using #outliveyourself. Honestly, I didn’t think too much about it other than getting a bit of satisfaction that something I wrote had been incorporated into the brand’s voice. But now Taylor’s Gift is launching a new initiative, The Taylor’s Gift Challenge. Partnering with Olympic gold medal gymnast Carly Patterson, Taylor’s Gift is attempting to register 1 million new organ donors in 2012. The main focus of the campaign will be social media. And they want everyone to tag every Facebook status update, tweet or blog post with #outliveyourself.

I, of course, don’t have anything to do with this campaign beyond those two words that I wrote nearly a year ago. And that’s okay. I’m just happy to have helped in any way at all. It sure beats doing a sell sheet.

And in case you’re wondering, I did choose to outlive myself. And you can, too, by visiting and clicking “become a donor.” Give the gift that keeps on living.



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