3 Things Marketers Can Take Away From the Ice Bucket Challenge

Posted on: August 29th, 2014

Bill Gates ice bucket challenge

There is one thing that Bill Gates and nearly all of your friends have in common. Can you guess what it is? They have all participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has become so ubiquitous that it probably doesn’t need an introduction. But for those who just arrived from a lengthy camping trip in the remote Alaskan wilderness, participants must dump ice water on their heads to promote awareness for the disease. Following their icy doom, they nominate their friends to do the same. Those who do not brave the frigid waters must donate to the ALS Foundation.

This popular and pervasive challenge often polarizes opinions but it’s impossible to argue against its effectiveness. According to the ALS Foundation, $94.3 million in donations has been raised in the last month alone. In the same period last year, the foundation raised $2.7 million.

Eventually, the challenge videos on our newsfeeds will be scarce. But, there are numerous lessons that can be learned from the movement which will continue to be true even once the challenge takers are few and far between. Here are three tips the ALS Ice Bucket challenge has taught marketers:

  1. Make it doable – really, really doable

This is one of the main reasons that celebrities, babies, dogs and politicians have dumped ice water on their heads. They didn’t need special tools, connections or money. Don’t have a bucket? Use a bowl. Don’t have ice? That’s okay, join the benevolent cheaters by using lukewarm water.

  1. Give people something to stand behind

While there’s nothing particularly philanthropic about pouring water on your head, there is something to be said about standing behind a cause. That is what the ALS Ice Bucket challenge gave people the opportunity to do. The ice cubes down your back may not feel great, but knowing that what you’re doing is part of an altruistic social movement sure does.

  1. Be flexible, and let them do the talking

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has few rules, which makes it appealing to content creators.  Some have used it to promote products. For example, Samsung poured ice water over the new Galaxy 5S to showcase the fact that it’s waterproof. Others have used the challenge to bring attention to other causes. Take YouTube filmmaker Casey Neistat who flipped an empty bucket over his head for the non-profit Charity:Water. By taking the challenge, influential people can tell their own stories without neglecting the overarching cause.

Unlike the social engagement efforts of many brands, participants are not confined to sharing certain messages. The ALS Foundation has provided the numbers to back up the movement without attempting to restrict the resourcefulness of participants. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is malleable and allows for endless amounts of creativity for both marketers and individuals.

We can help you connect creatively and authentically with the community. Appleton Creative is an award-winning, full-service advertising agency located in Orlando, Florida. Appleton works with local, national and international clients to provide marketing strategies through print, web, social media and video production – all in-house. At Appleton, we want to learn about your business, empower your marketing team and be your creative resource. Your marketing goals are worth a conversation: contact us at 407-246-0092 or info@appletoncreative.com.