ALS Ice bucket challenge. A marketers perspective.

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In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, odds are you’ve heard of the ALS Ice bucket challenge, seen the hashtag #icebucketchallenge or watched videos of people dumping a bucket of ice water all over themselves, all to support those who struggle from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Even our fearless leader accepted the challenge and donated to this cause.
What initially started out as challenge between friends has turned into a viral phenomenon over the summer. Marketers are salivating at the prospect of developing similar campaigns with the hopes of reaching similar numbers for their yet-to-be-conceived campaigns. However in this case, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery.

There are reasons why the ice bucket challenge took off the way it did. For starters, the challenge is not pushing a product or service on to the next set nominees; rather, it’s advocating a selfless action. To be quite honest, it’s allowing people to have their “15 minutes of fame” all the while doing something for a cause, an important cause.

Think about the challenge from different perspective. Imagine if a seller challenged others to do a similarly designed challenge, but with the action of passing along an endorsement for a product or service. How do you think that would fly? Odds are not very well. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly a number of brilliant ad campaigns that have gone viral, but mimicking a challenge similar to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge will not only fail, but can have disastrous consequences. Many others out there will deconstruct the Ice Bucket Challenge and offer takeaways to make your campaign a success. But what worked for one campaign won’t necessarily work for another. Take a look at this article over at Forbes about “What Brands Shouldn’t Learn from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

That being said, the Ice Bucket Challenge generated a lot of attention for a good cause, and generating buzz for worthwhile goals is always a good thing.

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