Should You Try To Create An Ice Bucket Challenge in 2015?

Last summer and autumn it was impossible to go anywhere on the internet without getting a residual splash from someone doing, or talking about, the Ice Bucket Challenge. It became the charity phenomenon of the year, and sent those involved in cause-related social media scuttling to find the follow-up.

The Ice Bucket Challenge was somewhat based on a false premise though (which actually was part of its brilliance). Most people didn’t actually know what they were raising money for (and, in its voyage across the Atlantic, the main recipient of money raised changed identity), but they still did it in their millions. It was what Hollywood marketers would call a four-quadrant phenomenon, appealing to young and old, male and female. It was fun to watch, slightly (but not too) hard to do, and made people feel good about themselves. The ‘challenge’ aspect fostered a natural sharing element, with people videoing themselves in their millions all over the world. It even had celebrity endorsement (a key driver at the start of the campaign).

So, should companies go all-out to find their own Ice Bucket Challenge in 2015? There are pros and cons. Plenty of other organisations have tried to create their own version, with varying degrees of success: from no make-up selfies to wake-up selfies to UNICEF’s Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony ‘moment’, when Ewan McGregor implored those watching to text for charity (and helped to raise a very impressive £3m). But most of the ones we have heard of have had the backing of large charities with seasoned social media teams, funds to promote it, and early celebrity endorsement. For every no make-up selfie campaign, there are probably 10 (or more) which didn’t even make it above the parapet. Users are also jaded, with a certain amount of charity fatigue and cycnicism also having set in.

That’s not to say it’s impossible though, but it is a complex issue: with correctly managed expectations, diligence and (above all) a unique and shareable concept it might be worth thinking about. It’s also worth considering the long-term ramifications: are you actually creating ‘advocates’ who will support you, or just short-term ‘slactivists’ who are more or less fulfilling a box-ticking requirement and won’t remember who you are in six months’ time?

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