An uncommon disease quickly became a philanthropy sensation, thanks to some creative marketing tactics. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has generated over $125 million in donations toward finding a cure for ALS in just a few months. Since the first ice bucket challenge video debuted in July 2014, more than 2.5 million people from 150 countries have filmed videos to raise awareness for the deadly disease.
Pete Frates is the man behind the Ice Bucket Challenge. After being diagnosed with ALS in 2011, Frates decided to do something about the incurable disease. While most people would accept this diagnosis as a tragedy, Frates saw his diagnosis as his opportunity to change the world.
His initial goal was to get ALS in front of philanthropists like Bill Gates. A team of Frates’ family and friends aimed to raise awareness of the disease. Frates acts as their fearless leader. Although he is currently paralyzed, Frates communicates with eyegazer technology and is still the face of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Frates and his successful campaign can be attributed to three factors: a positive, proactive attitude; a mental toughness required to put himself out there and refusal to give up; and the mindset to go after an unacceptable situation.
Because of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’s undeniable success, we are naming Pete Frates this week’s Marketing Hero.
In less than a month after the first video, ALS received attention from national media, celebrities and global media. How was the Ice Bucket Challenge successful so quickly? We’ve narrowed it down to four marketing concepts.
1. Social Media
The Ice Bucket Challenge shows us the importance of using social media in marketing campaigns. In a fast-paced, technology-based world, social media in marketing is more important than ever.
Social media made the campaign sharable through multiple platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Because multiple social media platforms were utilized, the campaign reached a larger audience, spreading rapidly within a relatively short amount of time.
Additionally, social media made this campaign easy for people to participate in. Only a few minutes and one technological device (a cell phone) were required to film, upload and share videos on social media platforms. People found this simplicity attractive, which is why the Challenge attracted so many participants.
2. Emotional Appeal played a big role in the Challenge’s success through its feel-good aspect. Think about it – people love feeling like they are making a difference. This campaign made it easy for participants to achieve that feeling of importance through just a small act of posting a video. Whether people poured water over their heads or donated toward a cure for ALS, participants felt like they were truly making a difference. And – to their credit – they did!
3. Make It Fun. Millions of ice bucket videos were uploaded, but people never grew tired of watching someone getting drenched with freezing water. Why? Because it’s a fun campaign and a funny concept! Participants stretched their creativity, coming up with their own original ways to do the challenge. Videos became more and more outrageous (check out this video by Bill Gates). A fun campaign attracts an audience and keeps them interested.
4. Originality. How many other marketing campaigns involve pouring ice water on your head to generate awareness? None that I’m aware of. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is creative. It’s new. A marketing strategy that is the first of its kind will be memorable and leaves a lasting impression on the public.