Filed under: Comment
So you may have noticed there’s this thing called the ice-bucket challenge going all over the internet at the moment.
Bill Gates has done it.
Mr Amazon has done it.
Even Oprah has done it.
Underpinning all this mayhem is a very simple goal, to raise awareness – and funds – for ALS [Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis], which is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Some people have quite rightly pointed out that throwing a bucket of ice cold water over yourself won’t cure the disease and the reason for it’s appeal is that we live in a narcissistic society and people enjoy being able to be the centre of attention.
And you know what, they’re absolutely right – but for me, they’re missing the bigger point.
You see ALS is a disease with little awareness and almost zero funding.
In fact, if you read this article, you’ll see that even some doctors aren’t aware of what ALS stands for.
The reality is the people at ALS.org knew they had to do something that would force their way into the public’s consciousness because for years, nothing has changed.
This is a major achievement in itself because very few people or companies can look at themselves with blunt honesty and clarity. The temptation to ‘soften’ or ‘reframe’ is always very seductive but in the cold light of day, the people at ALS knew things weren’t moving in the right direction as quickly as desired. Or needed.
As the old quote goes, the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result … so even though the people at ALS knew they would be opening themselves up to ridicule and judgement, they felt they had nothing to lose so created a radical – yet fun – idea that would [hopefully] tap into societies narcissistic desires while being directly linked to their specific cause.
Could it have failed?
Oh definitely … but for me, this wasn’t a brave strategy, it was the most sensible thing they could do and the result is they’ve already had more success than most social media campaigns that have been carefully planned, managed and executed by highly paid, social media gurus could ever hope to achieve.
Plus they’ve raised an estimated 10 million dollars in a matter of weeks.
Yes, 10 million.
Which means they’ve achieved more than just awareness, they’ve actually made a massive economic difference to their ‘business’ … a level of effectiveness that arguably sweeps most communication case studies aside because going from zero funding and awareness to something of global significance – in just a matter of weeks – is something you can’t ignore.
Now of course adland – especially social media agencies – will use this as an example of what social campaigns can achieve, but yet again, they’ll be missing the point.
Apart from the fact little they’ve done has ever achieved this level of engagement and effectiveness – the reality is the ice bucket challenges’ success is because of the idea, not because it was something that ran on social channels.
Don’t get me wrong, the medium has definitely contributed to its success but it’s success is not purely down to the fact this idea was executed in that particular medium and I am fed up of this bullshit myth being perpetuated that social is the most effective way for a brand to communicate when the harsh reality is the majority of ‘campaigns’ put out by companies and agencies are actively ignored rather than consciously embraced.
As I – and my Mum – have banged on for years, if you want to make a difference, be meaningful, not social.
People don’t engage or pass things on because a brand wants them to, they engage and pass things on when an idea or subject or story interests and intrigues them which is why the best social campaigns are social as a byproduct of an idea, not a commercial ambition.
Anyway, the reason for all this is that I was recently ‘tagged’ by a colleague of mins and so I took part and I donated some money.
It would be good if you joined in too.
45 Comments so far
Leave a comment