If you have any social media presence on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, it’s likely that your news feeds have been flooded (pun intended) with videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on their heads this week. Why? They’ve been nominated by someone else to take the Ice Bucket Challenge, a campaign designed to raise awareness and donations for ALS.
The fundraising phenomenon asks those willing to douse themselves and to challenge others to do the same within 24 hours. If they don’t, they must make a financial donation. Each person who participates nominates more people, who nominate more people, who nominate still more people, which explains why the trend has truly exploded. Celebrities are even getting on the bandwagon to support the cause. Earlier this week, Martha Stewart doused herself on live TV, shortly followed by Justin Timberlake, who later challenged Jimmy Fallon. The torch has even been passed to the New York Jets and politicians on Capitol Hill. Not even the top CEOs in the tech industry could resist participation in the Ice Bucket Challenge.
Unlike many similar marketing fails, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been a huge success. But why? In short, the campaign is audience-driven with a built-in sharing component, sense of urgency is present, the content is authentic and easy for the average person to create, it supports a great cause, and lastly, it provides a tremendous amount of what marketers like to refer to as social currency. As Max Lenderman, CEO of the agency school put it, “…it’s totally own-able, unique, iconic and simple.”
Some critics the campaign have argued that its viral nature appears centered around an aversion to giving money. My response to them? Haters gonna hate, but numbers don’t lie. Between July 29 and August 12, The ALS Association and its 38 chapters have received an astonishing $4 million in donations compared to $1.12 million during the same time period last year. Not to mention, there has been a surge in awareness for ALS as a direct result of this initiative—just look at direct search traffic for “ALS” over the past 12 months.
Last night, I joined the masses in the fight against ALS by pouring an ice cold bucket of water on my head on my windy DC rooftop (video evidence here), meaning that my time has come to dish out some nominations. So without further ado, I nominate the Delucchi Plus management team to take the Ice Bucket Challenge — because who doesn’t want to see their boss pour two gallons of ice water on their head?
UPDATE: Some of them delivered!