How ALS is Creating Brand Awareness in 2014


als-ice-waterIf you’re a Facebook user, your news feed over the past couple weeks likely has been inundated with videos of friends dumping buckets of ice water over their heads. And if you’re like most Facebook users, you probably find it a welcome respite from all the cat videos, Buzzfeed quizzes (“If I were a bowl of soup, I would be a Ford Taurus”) and hackneyed meme photos.

These ice water videos, as you’ve probably figured out, serve a greater purpose than enabling Facebook users to garner attention by embarrassing themselves in a public setting. They are part of the ALS Ice Water Challenge, created to bring awareness (as well as monetary donations) to the neurodegenerative disease ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The premise of the challenge is simple. A participant posts a video to Facebook in which he dumps a full bucket of ice water over his head, “tagging” three friends who are instructed they have 24 hours either to do the same or to donate $100 to ALS research.

Perhaps you had never heard of ALS before these videos began surfacing, or maybe you had but never took the opportunity to research what it is and how many lives it has affected. Chances are that you know a lot more about the disease now, even if you haven’t publicly given yourself a freezing cold baptism or donated money to the cause.

The ALS challenge is a perfect example of successfully spreading brand awareness through viral marketing. The dumping of ice water is the clever hook which compels people to watch the videos and to perpetuate the chain, and the alternative of a $100 cash donation, even if it isn’t employed frequently, still results in a nice windfall for ALS research with only a tiny fraction of those tagged in the challenge choosing to donate.

But the biggest success of the ALS challenge has nothing to do with how much money it is able to generate in the short term. The more people who understand the nature of this disease, how devastating it is, and how many lives that could be saved by finding a cure, the sooner this end can be accomplished. Even if someone isn’t able to donate $100 the day he is tagged in a Facebook video, just planting the seed in his head of what a worthy cause this is could very well cause him to contribute in a much larger way down the road when he is able. That is the power of brand awareness.

Whether you’re a small business, a large business, a charity organization, or even just a shameless self-promoter, there are valuable lessons to be learned from the ALS Ice Water Challenge about the power of increasing brand awareness and the way to go about successfully doing so.


3 thoughts on “How ALS is Creating Brand Awareness in 2014

  1. amarsh6

    When all of this started, I had no idea what ALS was but now that this challenge has gone viral I know much more about the disease. That is exactly what it does, gives awareness. Whoever came up with the idea is a genius because it truly went viral and spread information and help all around the world. Not only for ALS but for other diseases as well. Even though there was some bad feedback from it, saying why pour water over your head instead of donate? It causes controversy which gets people talking even more.

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