If you’ve not heard of the #ALSIceBucketChallenge campaign, well, where have you been?
The #ALSIceBucketChallenge has taken the western world by storm, across Facebook at least, you can’t go more than ten seconds without seeing another celebrity throw a bucket of ice cold water over their head.
If the aim of the charity has been to simply raise awareness of the motor neurone disease, then yes job well done! However, if the aim has been to raise money for the charity, then I’m not so sure.
Seemingly, if you don’t complete the #IceBucketChallenge (sadly ALS has been dropped from the hashtag, I’ll let you think about that) within 24 hours you have to donate to the charity. In my opinion, it makes sense that whether you do the challenge or not, you should have to give money to the charity. The people I’ve spoken to, aren’t even too sure what charity the campaign is raising money for, but they’re happy to sit and watch the videos all day. It’s easy to get swept up in the sensationalism of what’s happening and forget the message behind why people are doing it.
That said, it has been a great campaign to raise awareness, starting over in the US and making its way to the UK. With celebrities ranging from Bill Gates to Benedict Cumberbatch joining in the fun it has been impossible to ignore. The videos have become a keeping up with the Jones’ type campaign, with celebrities the world over competing to make their videos the best ones online. It’s good to now see everyday people taking part in the campaign and bringing it to a much more personal level – that of which will hopefully make more people donate to charity.
I think as a marketing campaign, the idea has worked. More and more people are getting involved, which in theory means more and more people know about ASL (hurray). However, I think there are still some important lessons to be learnt. For example. having celebrity buy in has really made a difference to the success of the campaign. Excellent. But the same celebrity sensationalism has also deterred people from the real problem and the solution that has been offered. It’s a fine balance between marketing and publicity – publicity for the celebrities that is.
Going viral is great but you need to be able to stay true to your overall aim. Especially when people are caught up in the celebrity culture rather than the end goal. It you’re looking to get exposure for a good cause – celebrity endorsement works, especially when it’s free and people are doing it for the prestige of saying they’ve taken part. But, let’s remember kids, there’s a good cause at the heart of this and I sadly think that that has been forgotten in all the hype.
But, then again, does that even matter if 10 times more people are aware of ALS?