ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge Went Viral On Social Media

3 Min Read. |
Social Media Campaign:

The Ice Bucket Challenge / ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

(It went viral on social media during July – August, 2014)

Company Business Objectives:

• Awareness about ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) disease

• Encourage Fund Raising for Research for ALS

The Approach:

In 2014, to raise awareness about ALS, people all over the world took the Ice Bucket challenge dumping a bucket of cold water on one’s head and nominating participants to do the same.

One, the participants taking the challenge need to film the act and upload the video on social media. Two, the nominated participants have 24 hours to comply to this challenge and if they fail to do so, they will have to make a charitable financial donation.

How It Started:

Chris Kennedy, the famous Golfer challenged his cousin Jeanette Senerchia. She took the challenge. She also nominated some friends for the same, and associated it with ALS. Soon, William Shatner, of Star Trek, was drenched in cold ice water.

High-points of this campaign:

• A campaign with Zero investment

• Celebrities were involved in the campaign. Golfer Chris Kennedy, television anchor Matt

Lauer, Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker, actor Hugh Jackman, actress Renee Zellweger.

The line up includes former President George W. Bush, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Lady Gaga, Nick Offerman, even the Biebs.

• Superb media attention


Ice Bucket challenge was truly an Internet Sensation! and a fund raising success.

• More than $220 Million has been raised in less than a year, over $600,000 a day

• 17 million videos from over 159 countries; 440 million people saw it

• Hits to Wikipedia on ASL reached a 2.89 million views in August 2014 from an average of

163,300 views per month

• The ASL Association raised $41.8 million donations from around 739,000 new donors between

July 29 to August 21, 2014


• It is true that the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised enormous donations, but in reality majority of participants do not actually donate, revealed some studies that were undertaken post the campaign.

• This campaign was accused by some of being self-congratulatory, taking a serious issue as ASL lightly in a fun way. Example: Evening Standard Magazine stated in one of the quotes that this challenge has become more about showing off start power than raising funds. Secondly, on hearing such criticisms, ALS Association withdrew an application which they had filed to trademark the “ice bucket challenge”. On the contrary, Jennifer Polk, of Gartner, expressed the serious side to ALS but regarding the campaign Ice Bucket, he said that it is being seen as a social behaviour that is fun.

The Lessons for Marketeers:

• 24 hours window CTA (call-to-action) has really driven the campaign and compelledparticipation, donation and virality. Inducing emotional pressure, feeling of guilt, ‘what if, youdon’t do it or accept the challenge when friends nominate you’.

• To ignite competition spirit really works well in getting positive results

• Getting your audience to create content for you, is a viral social campaign by itself.


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