If you represent a brand and you haven’t participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, you could be missing out on a chance to show the human side of corporate life, spread goodwill, and even call out your competitors. Images of ice buckets being dumped have been ubiquitous on social media the past few weeks – you may have even been the recipient of freezing cold water yourself. What’s amazing about this movement is that even big name CEOs are willing to get chilly for charity, and give their brands a boost in the process.
Here’s a look at some of the coolest (pun intended!) brand head honchos who have taken part in the Ice Bucket Challenge, and how they’ve turned it into a fun branding experience, complete with company T-shirts, in front of their headquarters, with employees cheering them on, or even with an appearance from a mascot.
Calling out the competition
Ben Baldanza, CEO of Spirit Airlines, knows first-hand the horrors of ALS, having lost his mom to the disease, so he was more than happy to spread awareness for the cause. He also took the opportunity to challenge fellow airline execs from JetBlue, Delta, and American Airlines.
The cell phone wars always make for good competitive marketing content fodder, so T-Mobile took the lead among carriers when CEO John Legere decided to challenge the CEOs of Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and AT&T. The seemingly endless buckets turned over his head by staffers, and the huge cheering crowd make it seem like T-Mobile is a great place to work.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella invited a winning hackathon team to dump buckets on him, and gave creative thinking employees like them kudos for being innovative. Next, he challenged Google CEO Larry Page and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and ended his video with a little Windows-inspired philosophy: “It’s better to have your head in the clouds than under a bucket of ice.”
Calling All Mascots
Recognizing that this viral sensation is related to marketing, Coca-Cola’s SVP of Integrated Marketing, Wendy Clark, took on the challenge with the help of Coke’s polar bear mascot and a red Coca-Cola towel to dry off. Her challenge to other brands and their mascots included Mark Addicks and the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee from General Mills, Lisa Cochrane and the Mayhem Man at Allstate, Dana Anderson and the Milkbite Man at Mondelez International, Jeff Jones and Bullseye the Dog at Target, and Deborah Wahl and Ronald McDonald of McDonald’s.
The Real Brand Winner: ALS
So how did this ice bucket challenge sweep the nation so quickly and so effectively, to the point that brands are stepping up? The first big reason for its success has been people making it their own without a marketing agenda getting in the way. As Anne-Marie Kline writes in AdAge: “If a brand had launched something like this, chances are that you’d have marketers all over the place trying to control the message. But this challenge enables people to tell their own stories. Some have dedicated their video to a loved one with ALS. Some are taking the opportunity to create a memory with friends. Others are taking creative license and building ice dumping contraptions à la Bill Gates.”
The challenge, which gained steam a few months back when Pete Frates, 29, a former Boston College baseball player who suffers from ALS posed the challenge to fellow athletes, has exploded into an amazing boost for ALS research funding. So far the organization has received received $15.6 million in donations compared to $1.8 million during the same time period (July 29 – August 18) last year, according to the ALS site.
Since catching on, it has become something that everyone wants to do, and challenge others to do as well. It’s also simple and straightforward, and the timing of summer couldn’t be better for some icy cold fun.
The next time you launch a user-driven campaign, think about what you can learn from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:
- Giving users a reason to share their stories in their own way within a simple framework
- Branding the campaign with an easy-to-remember name and hashtag
- Making it something fun and easy enough that people will want to share it with their friends on social networks
- Providing your fans a chance to do something positive
A little altruism goes a long way! What can your brand do to change the world today? Better grab your towels!
And to put our money where our mouth is, we took the challenge right here at NewsCred:
Originally published on Aug 21, 2014 11:35 AM, updated Feb 10, 2016