Ice Bucket Challenge: Stone Cold Marketing Brilliance

Ice Bucket Challenge: Stone Cold Marketing Brilliance

How many marketing techniques can you fit into a single campaign? The ALS ice bucket challenge might set a new record. And they execute them all so well.

The challenge employs:

  • Celebrity endorsements – You can’t help but see celebrities of all walks of life taking the challenge then calling upon more celebrities to join them. The unpaid endorsements top every other campaign I’ve ever seen….even more than USA for Africa if you can stand to hear “We Are the World” one more time
  • Viral Marketing – The idea that part of the campaign is to call out three people assures a viral thread across the social media universe once it took hold
  • Word of Mouth – You will see your friends endorse the campaign one by one, until you are finally called upon. Try to resist the peer pressure that creates
  • Multi-level (Pyramid) marketing – By creating brand champions out of friends, family and celebrities, it sucks you in to become one too. It is a steamroller of pyramid marketing.
  • Social media – It employs Facebook and twitter better than any campaign ever has. It uses those tools to make money more effectively than anything in recent memory
  • Public Relations – Even the social media illiterate will surely have heard of the campaign and seen clips of it through news, and sports shows, or through friends and relatives who have seen the videos or participated themselves.
  • Branding – We know it by the “Ice Bucket Challenge” We know it is for ALS research. They have made that message part of us now. We don’t even have to think about it.
  • News, excitement and a strong call-to-action – News:0 “Everyone wants to work to cure ALS” Excitement: The visual of a bucket of ice over a person’s head. Call-to-action: The next three named really can’t ignore it.
  • Brand advancement – The consistency and simplicity of every message, each delivered in its own unique way to make sure you view it is astounding.

What do you get when you run such a successful campaign? Last year, through the month of July and August, the ALS Association received about $2.5 million in donations. This year, with the start of the campaign, they are over $79.7 million in donations.

Like just about every other successful campaign you can think of, the success of this campaign is not in its uniqueness. Every one of these techniques, right down to the bucket of ice over the head, has been done to death in about every combination possible. So why has nothing worked this well? What is different here, is that all the techniques were employed according to a strong plan, that made sense and employed great fundamentals.

When you create a campaign, just worry about the fundamentals, and make sure what you decide creatively makes sense according to that plan. Then believe in and commit to it.