Ice Bucket Challenge: A Viral Success Or Awareness Disaster?

Raising $4 million in two weeks inst something that’s done on a regular basis, but the trending #icebucketchallenge set up by the ALS Association, a charity that fights amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also called Lou Gerhig’s disease), a fatal neurodegenerative disease has succeeded in doing so.

Similar to the infamous ‘nek nominate’ campaign of promoting the fine art of binge drinking by sculling a beer and nominating two other friends to complete the challenge, here’s how the ALS sets out its rules:

The challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness. Those who refuse to take the challenge are asked to make a donation to the ALS charity of their choice.

With many celebrities and influential figures challenging others and completing it themselves, its questionable whether the effectiveness of the peer to peer viral marketing strategy has worked.

The following are key arguments on whether the crowd generated viral strategy is a stroke of marketing genius, or a distraction for the organisations objectives:

Arguments for:

  • items that included the term “ALS” increased 1,007 percent across social media
  • items that mentioned Lou Gehrig’s Disease increased 1,167 percent.
  • since the campaign began, there’s been 42 percent fewer materials read or seen with the words “Ice Bucket Challenge” compared to ALS-related terms. **** the most important statistic****
  • in the same period last year only $25,000 was raised (compared to this years $4 million)

Arguments against:

  • many videos are uploaded without a single mention of the ALS or what it stands for
  • the campaigns structure can be seen as offensive for those who are affected by the disease
  • the viral nature can appear to be centered around an aversion to donating money, as people opt to ‘prefer’ dumping iced water over their heads than donating $100

Although significant points are raised for the campaign being distracted from its objectives with mind numbing stunts (literally), it would be fair to suggest that this form of viral marketing can be very effective, but only if done with perfection and with a stroke of luck on getting a big name to turn it viral.

Is this campaign effective? could it have been more effective? leave a comment below on your opinion / strategy when it comes to user generated viral marketing content!

the Following is a sample of the most popular #icebucketchallenge videos:

Paul Bissonnette

 New York Jets:

Conan O’Brian 

Mark Zuckerberg:



One thought on “Ice Bucket Challenge: A Viral Success Or Awareness Disaster?

  1. What a great topic to write a blog post about!!! Hahah. I really like how you looked at the negative outcomes that resulted from the challenge. It’s funny how we both compared it to nek nominate. Awesome work!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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