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A Bucket of Challenge


It’s challenging to save up money for ourselves, but what’s more challenging than that is to raise a huge sum of money for a noble cause — especially when it does not affect us directly. But what cause would require a lot of funding, and why does it deserve the awareness it doesn’t already have?

The answer is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. (ALS, also known as the Lou Gehrig disease) This neurodegenerative disease is one of the torturing, fatal diseases that not many know about.

There’s neither a definite diagnosis nor a cure to ALS, yet it can affect anyone anytime. ALS causes muscle weakness and atrophy throughout the body due to the degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons.

As the disease progresses, individuals affected ultimately lose their ability to control any voluntary movement. At the final stages of the disease, bladder and bowel function and the extra ocular muscles will not be spared as well. Only 4% survive longer than 10 years, with Stephen Hawking being one of the rare survivors.

The ALS Association came up with a campaign titled The Ice Bucket Challenge to bring attention and raise funds for research on this devastating disease. To accept this challenge, all you need to do is fill a bucket full of ice and dump it over your head. Then, challenge a few friends to do the same or donate $100 to the ALS Association. Then, post the video on social media.

It’s a simple yet fun way to raise awareness for ALS, but what propelled the campaign into a global phenomenon as it is today?

In late July of 2014, a former Boston College baseball star and victim of ALS stumbled upon the ice bucket challenge from his friend who also has ALS. He took the challenge and began to pass it on to his immediate circle of family and friends. But his video very quickly received the attention of (spoiler alert) high-profile people including celebrities, and almost overnight the entire social media as we know it.

With that said, one of the causes of the campaign going viral seemed to be the celebrities’ take on the challenge. Albeit the story behind how the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS pulled heart strings, it was just the launch pad to something bigger.

As we dug deeper, we realised that there are three contributing factors behind the whole shabang. Are you ready to find out what they are?

1.    “Dare” Your Audience; Everyone Loves a Dare!

If you haven’t figured it out already, any campaign has to engage the audience in order to get people talking about it. Sometimes it requires stats and analytics, other times; well… a good old fashioned challenge works best.

The Ice Bucket Challenge can be accepted by simply sharing a video of yourself pouring a bucket of ice water over your head in 24 hours or declined by donating to the cause. Chances are, people would like to prove that they are up for a challenge and with the charity in mind, there’s an even better reason to do it.

2.    Make It Easy, But Challenging.

Your challenge has to be (or at least look) easy enough for your audience to want to take on it. Remember Cadbury’s PICNIC Challenge in 2010? PICNIC bars were forgotten, but Cadbury managed to bring it back to life by presenting a challenge to its target audience. Not only that, they managed to make the challenge look achievable when it’s not so easy, at the same time highlighting the chocolate bar’s uniqueness.

Such is with the Ice Bucket Challenge. People are constantly trying to outdo one another, so when creativity is in the mix, people would come up with more interesting and surprising videos. People want to showcase their originality. Pouring a bucket of ice water over yourself looks simple — the question is, is it simple enough for you?

3.    Leave a Window of Opportunity for Them To Dare Their Friends!

Now that you have a few sporting individuals taking up the challenge, here’s where you can take the dare to the next level: open up an opportunity for the people who have completed the challenge to dare their friends and family to do the same.

By empowering your believers, your campaign receives organic exposure, thanks to the passionate folks who voluntarily spread your campaign via word-of-mouth; which is the “holy grail” of advertising in the age of millennials.

It is impossible for something to remain under the radar when Taylor Swift, Mark Zuckerberg and even Bill Gates take part in the challenge. Of course, the exposure wouldn’t stop there because when these global icons issue the challenge to their equally influential friends, your campaign will blow off the roof in no time.

According to The New York Times, people have shared more than 1.2 million videos on Facebook since the campaign started. As of Sunday, the ALS Association had received $15 million in donations since July 29, compared with $1.8 million last year. More people are joining in and making donations, so the amount being pledged is still rising!

At the end of the day, the Ice Bucket Challenge is a remarkable example of how a challenge can be used as a powerful call to action. With a tool this powerful, creatives need to ensure that the reason behind the challenge stands out strong as well; lest the cause is buried by the campaign’s gimmick.

ALS is a deadly disease and it should not remain a silent killer. Join the battle for a world without ALS. Visit http://www.alsa.org/ to find out how you can contribute.

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