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Digital Marketing

How can the Ice Bucket Challenge help me as a marketer??

If you have been on the internet at all in the past few weeks, especially Facebook, then you most likely have been inundated news, posts and videos regarding the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  The internet has been streaming with videos of people dousing themselves with ice water and in turn, challenging their friends and family to do the same to raise awareness and donations to fight this debilitating disease.  This campaign has been monumental for the ALS organization, gaining $70.2 million in donations as of August 24th in the past month due to spreading awareness of the challenge and those that are donating.  This number FAR outweighs the amount received last year totaling $2.5 million in donations. [1]  It has even gotten attention of commercial businesses such as Frontier airlines who is offering $32 one way airline tickets to consumers and will donate $3 per ticket purchased to ALS. [2]
So why am I bringing this challenge up here?  Because marketers of any kind can learn quite a bit in regards to consumer engagement and tactics to get consumers to interact, engage and participate in what a brand is doing.  Each of these tactics also correspond to each other and should always be at the forefront when thinking about marketing a brand or product.
Anytime you can personalize an experience or situation, it becomes more relatable and identifiable with someone.  With this challenge, many people out there may not know someone or be familiar with this specific disease, but they may know someone with another kind of debilitating, fatal disease that they can resonate with.  This challenge has created a niche community that is exclusive and inclusive all at the same time.  It gives the chance to someone to be included by participating in the challenge or just the ability to just watch the videos and participate by making a donation.  It creates a situation where people can still participate even if they are not following suit with everyone else while still making it personal for themselves.
Word of Mouth – Digitally so to speak
Marketer’s often think by controlling the message, they will have better success.  But in reality with letting go of that control, others are able to tell their message or story (this also can related back to personalization).  It has always been said that word-of-mouth is the best type of marketing/advertising/promotion – Social media has only amplified this to the 10th degree, allowing consumers to spread the word of a cause like the ALS challenge or a brand/product that they have used.  When you let consumers tell their message, it creates a personal connection is much more relatable to other consumers.  Tying a cause like this ALS challenge to communities, lets each individual relate to that specific cause with their own story.  The same thought process can be applied to any brand or product promotion.
Marketer’s often think if you go big, results are big, higher the risk, higher the reward.  But national promotion is not often as powerful as initiating locally.  This ice bucket challenge was not originally intended to become a national much less, global movement.  Due the hometown link in Boston (where this challenge originated) of a former BC baseball team player and his story, the local community got the attention of their friends and families (and eventually celebrities – Seth Meyers enacted his as the closer to the Emmy awards) nationwide to support the cause.
The power of consumers combined with social media is exponential.  Starting small, letting go and personalizing your message are all tactics that can improve consumer engagement and participation with your brand and/or product.
Next time we will all think twice when a simple idea such as throwing ice water on yourself comes across the table.
[1] Source:
[2] Source:

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Heather Bowman

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