Campaign of the Week: The Ice Bucket Challenge
Breaking the ice on some difficult questions about the latest charity craze to splash across our social networks. How should we judge the success of this campaign?
When I made the decision to feature the latest viral craze – The Ice Bucket Challenge – in my blog this week, I simply thought it was an opportunity to discuss a new social media craze that is spreading online faster than you can say Harlem Shake.
It wasn’t until I scratched beneath the surface, and starting reading comments and response to the campaign across blogs and forums that I realised that it was quite such a bone of contention amongst some. It seems opinion is very divided on not only the success of the campaign but also its very concept.
What was most immediately alarming about the story, was that Corey Griffin, a 27 year old from Massachusetts who was responsible for the creation of the money raising idea, drowned whilst celebrating his fundraising success last weekend. Tragically ironic for a concept that invites you to throw a bucket of water over your head. He developed the idea with his close friend and ex-baseball player who is suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, and the accident took place as he was celebrating reaching $100,000 raised for the charity.
This tragic back story is somewhat buried online by the mainly positive news stories and articles talking about the craze. The debate however is rife! Whilst most people applaud the concept and are delighted by awareness being raised and fundamentally the funds pouring in, many are judging and questioning the reasons for its success.
As with any celebrity endorsed campaign (of which this has many – Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Lady Gaga, Usain Bolt and Cara Delevingne to name a few) the great cry is that if these celebrities dipped into their own pockets, the amount donated could be much increased. I know this is a campaign born in the US, but I am yet to see an ‘ordinary’ member of the public in my ‘social circle’ take up the challenge, it does seem to be a golden opportunity for celebs to raise their profiles and show-off about which of their A-List friends they nominate to take up the challenge next. I see that Barack Obama has politely declined his challenge.
Equally, people are questioning how much the level of awareness of the disease has actually been raised during this whole process. Do we really know anymore about ALS than we did a week ago? Personally, I can say I know very little about the symptoms, cause and cure of the disease, but this time a week ago I had never even heard of it. I did have to Google ALS to find out what it was when I first saw the campaign, so maybe that is a measure of success alone.
Extraordinarily, I have read multiple forum posts online suggesting that the craze is utterly irresponsible in a world where many countries suffer water shortages. Suggesting that this is single handily undoing all the great work completed by Water Aid over recent years. I think this is a perfect example of the internet drawing out the most cynical and negative opinions. You can’t do right for doing wrong online sometimes it would seem.
As with all campaigns, the awareness figures and fundamentally the financial stats are the marker for the success of the campaign. In this case, there is no denying this grassroots craze has been hugely successful for the charity and anyone touched by the disease.
It is another example of the speed at which a good idea can spread like hashtag wildfire across the worlds social media profiles, much like the ‘No Make-Up Selfie’ campaign did for Cancer Research here in the UK last year. It reminds us again, how quickly great content can access the benefits of social reach (Emma Jane tells me the average Facebook user has over 300 friends), and the nature of our personal networks shows us that marketing campaigns know no international boundaries. If your content is watchable, entertaining and shareable, it will be enjoyed by people in every corner of the world, within minutes – whether you like it or not!
Have you taken The Ice Bucket Challenge, or are you just enjoying watching the celeb videos from a far? We’d love to know your thoughts @GertrudeandIvy