ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

“….and now I nominate Jazmin Bernal to do the #IceBucketChallenge. You have to do the challenge and donate $10 or donate $100 if you don’t partake in the challenge. YOU HAVE 24 HOURS!”

These were the most cringe-worthy words to hear this summer, two days after thinking I had bronchitis and the absolutely worst summer cold. I remember being tagged in five ice bucket challenge videos. I also remember being asked multiple times why I hadn’t done the challenge yet. I was being pressured by my friends to throw water over my head and post it on social media…I was so confused. Although I did not do a video because of my for-ever-long summer cold, I did donate $50 to the ALS foundation.

I knew what ALS was because a co-worker’s mom had passed away from it. I remember my friend telling me that her death was slow and very painful not only to her mom, but to the whole family also. So, it brought me great joy to know that so many people had taken interest in trying to find a cure for ALS. The way America and the world did so blew my mind. Hundreds and hundreds of people taking advantage of the weather, throw ice water over their heads, and donating money to the cause was BRILLIANT public relations plan. The association used simple, textbook tactics that work like magic.

The ALS association

1) got everyone’s attention with something fun, quick, and catchy

2) used the biggest medium to get their message across


3) used peer pressure in the best way possible

4) yet kept it simple enough to understand and left room for individual creativity

From a PR stand point this message was absolutely genius. The creator of the challenge took advantage of ALL SOCIAL MEDIA (from Twitter to Instagram and Facebook), the fact that it’s 2014 and everyone has a recording ability on their smart phones, tablets, and laptops, the time of year, and also took advantage of the fact for the most part people want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

The challenge called out for “do-able” donations. It used a well-known method to get something from someone. They asked for something that could seem like A LOT (in this case $100) then they gave you an alternative (to do the challenge and only donate $10). As a psychology minor, I have learned that by using this simple tactic you could get what you want with almost no effort. This is because people would rather take the “easier” route or the one that they feel is more manageable.

The video challenge was so simple that people could make it their own. I saw really cute videos with mom and their children doing the challenge together, people in uniform doing the challenge, and even celebrities! The originality displayed by everyone who participated in the video made this challenge memorable.

This is why I find it difficult for this type of challenge to work this well again. The next non-profit that wants to do something as big as the #icebucketchallenge would have to look at the technique from a different angle, otherwise it would be a cliche. Using a different type of challenge in other seasons, or using a game, or maybe taking advantage of the selfie movement may make an equal impact. Also, making it a competition rather than a challenge may work to come up with funds for a non-profit organization. I have seen non-profits and other organizations use hashtags on Instagram to get some attention but unfortunately because they aren’t as funny or catchy, they don’t receive much spotlight.

To conclude, the plan was brilliant because it was easy, funny, and do-able! Everyone has a smart phone now-a-days that can record at any moment. Everyone wants to be a part of something big, everyone has $10, and everyone wants to help find a cure.


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