A promotion by four Durango, Colo., breweries to promote a local blood bank ended up attracting international attention as newspapers ran headlines like “A bottle of beer for a bag of blood” and “Sounds like a fair trade – blood for beer.”
The premise was simple: Durango Bootlegger’s Society members offered the public a certificate for a pint of beer if they donated a pint of blood to United Blood Services last Friday. In turn, United Blood Services donated a certain dollar amount per blood unit to KDUR Community Radio, which did a live remote broadcast from the event as part of its fall pledge drive.
The participating brewers, who began calling themselves the Bootlegger’s Society last spring after all four brewed a special pre-Prohibition beer, made a side bet that a representative of the brewery that collected the least pledges would have his or her hair died blood red for Halloween. The breweries are Durango Brewing, Ska Brewing, Carver’s Brewing and Steamworks Brewing.
After the 6th Street Hair Salon & Day Spa dispatched estheticians to transform the technicians who were drawing blood into vampires, a picture of that appeared in the Durango Herald. That’s when the world started to take notice. The British Broadcasting Corp. in South Africa highlighted the fact that vampires were drawing blood and donors were walking away with beer. MSNBC carried a report. CNN put it on its Headline News scroll.
“Apparently the caption under the photo might have been misinterpreted,” said Dave Thibodeau of Ska Brewing. “I think that they assumed that we were handing out beers right there.” In fact, donors had to wait at least 24 hours to redeem their certificate.
International attention aside, the campaign was wildly successful. On an average day, United Blood Services sees 12 to 15 donors. Last Friday, 38 pints were donated — and some people had to be turned away, with many donors were returning this week.
The breweries declared the contest a tie, so Tuesday representatives of all four walked out of Sixth Street Hair Salon with blood-red hair.
“It’s silly, but it’s wonderful,” said Jim Ward United Blood Services.