ALS #IceBucketChallenge: A Marketer’s Perspective As She Takes The Plunge


Just a simple task – fill a bucket full of ice and water, turn your iPhone on “selfie” mode, upload a video to your social media sites, and then challenge a few of your closest friends.

Seems like an odd way to help make a difference, but it is working! According to, as of August 20, 2014 the ALS association has received over $31.5 million in donations compared to the $1.9 million that came in during the same time period last year. And what can the organization attribute this year’s success to – the Internet phenomenon known as the #IceBucketChallenge.

In case you’ve been out of the loop for the past month, the Ice Bucket Challenge was started as a way to get donations for the ALS Association by asking for donations of $100 or creating an opt-out that involves filming yourself dumping a bucket of ice-cold water over your head and then requesting three of your friends to follow suit. It’s social media peer pressure at its most noble and philanthropic.

It’s like the old saying “no publicity is bad publicity” – the number one goal among campaigns such as these is to create awareness.

MTV has posted a list of the challenge rules on their website, here you’ll notice that, yes, although you may forego paying $100 by accepting the Ice Bucket Challenge, you still have to donate money to the ALS Association. So not only is EVERY participant donating but they are also keeping the trend alive by nominating three more people and having those three people nominate their own three and so on.

It’s pure genius if you ask me, what does this generation like more than taking photos & videos of themselves, perusing social media sites, and forcing their friends to do silly stunts?

According to there are four main things that every successful viral campaign needs to include:

  • Grabbing People’s Attention
  • Inspiration to a Higher Call
  • A Simple Call-to-Action
  • Some Measure of Controversy

The Ice Bucket Challenge has definitely succeeded in getting our attention; I haven’t gone one-day this past month without seeing a challenge video on my feed.

A majority of recent fads have had no real message behind them other than to entertain. For example, in 2011 it was planking, then in 2012 came the Gangnam Style music video parodies, and in 2013 it was the Harlem Shake. When these trends swept the nation they provided nothing but a great deal of entertainment. The current ALS challenge trend provides entertainment as well as raising a huge amount of money for a good cause; this makes it really hard NOT to participate.

The CTA here couldn’t be much easier. All you need is a bucket, some water, and a smart phone. This challenge can be done either alone or with the help of friends, the video doesn’t need to be high quality, and there is very little organization or planning involved.

It’s like the old saying “no publicity is bad publicity” – the number one goal among campaigns such as these is to create awareness. At the end of the day, if people are talking about your brand then you have successfully done your job. I’d find it hard to imagine that anyone with access to the internet is not now aware of the ALS association – especially after we see our favorite celebrities and public figures take on the challenge.

If you take anything away from this recent fad it should be that no marketing campaign is too ludicrous for consideration; even the craziest of ideas can lend themselves success. And if this doesn’t apply to you then at least enjoy some cheap amusement…including my very own Ice Bucket Challenge video below (note: the ice in my bucket did exist, but it all melted before I started).


EdgeMM Project Manager Molly Smith accepts the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Pop over to Edge’s Facebook Page to see more Edgers who have taken to dousing themselves for the cause, or better yet visit and learn more about what you can do.