How did the Ice Bucket Challenge take over the world?

Ice Bucket Challenge

Hint: It boils down to 2 ingredients.
By now I’m sure you’ve heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge benefiting ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease research. It became a pop culture phenomenon in July of this year. Between July 29 and August 17, there were 2.2 million mentions on Twitter alone. During this time there were $41.8 million in donations and more than 700,000 new donors. But that was just the beginning. By August 24th, donations reached $ 70.2 million.
It seems like everyone, including athletes, celebrities, Homer Simpson and the next-door neighbor’s 2-year-old has taken the Ice Bucket Challenge. Even the Samsung Galaxy challenged the iPhone 5.
It began as a heartfelt gesture in honor of a cherished friend, family member and colleague. It has become a quasi-stunt as people add their own flair to the ALS Challenge, one trying to outdo the other.
So why did it go viral?
Besides the fact that the ALS Foundation is a highly vetted charity committed to research and supports families affected by ALS, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is not just about raising money. It’s about an individual, his story and how those who cared for him honored him on YouTube and Facebook.
Watch this video, it will explain. Have some tissues handy. You may cry.

Click here to watch.

Seriously, watch it before you continue… 
What you just watched was an emotional story. Take (1.) a powerful story, add (2.) a little social media peer pressure and boom! …you’ve got viral fundraising. Without the emotional story very few would have taken the peer pressure seriously and it would never have gained the momentum to go viral.
We’ve discussed this before…
Saliency (the importance, relevance or emotional power) x Repetition = Branding (or Long term memory).
Low saliency requires more repetition. High saliency requires less repetition.
This story has high saliency. At one point, it gained enough momentum that the story wasn’t as important. Mass participation and personal nominations made this socially acceptable.
So, here it is. A highly salient story that created what every business hopes to create. 
Have you added the right ingredients to your marketing?
Are you missing spice in your messaging?


Morty Silber, CEO

Mad Strategies Inc.
a Wizard of Ads Partner

514.651.5775 l

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