Ben Kosinski, founder at Sumpto wrote an article recently on how the #IceBucketChallenge was a big ole FAIL. Check it out here: #IceBucketChallenge: Why You’re Not Really Helping. With no personal offense intended toward Ben (I’ve never met him and I’m sure he’s lovely), I disagree with pretty much everything in the post.
I’ve come across equal amounts of posts in my Facebook feed featuring people dumping ice water over their heads and people slamming the campaign saying how stupid and pointless it is. Here is my take as a PR person: IT’S A GREAT CAMPAIGN.
In everything I do as a public relations professional in my professional life and my volunteer work, I try to accomplish two overarching goals: 1) Get people talking about us and 2) make money. The ALS Association and the creator of the #IceBucketChallenge have accomplished both.
Awareness: Everyone is talking about the challenge. Even in the case where people are slamming the idea, they are still talking about it. And that spurs questions like “Oh, what’s ALS?” I’ll be entirely honest and say I knew very little about ALS other than the connection to Lou Gehrig. Huffington Post, Elle, TIME, NBC News – they are all talking about it! When clients talk about viral campaigns – this is it, folks.
Money: Ben clearly states in his Huffington Post entry: “…the ALS Association has seen as much as four times as many donations during this time period than last year…” Will these donations continue to pour in at such a healthy rate? Sadly, it’s likely they won’t. But brand and awareness building is a marathon, not a sprint. Small campaigns add up to major brand power and recognition.
I’d say this is a job well done. We can all go home now.
However, enter the nonprofit argument used too often: For every dollar we spent on X, we could have donated X. Ben argues that we could have all just donated the cost of the ice bags we bought (who doesn’t have a freezer? You can come to my house and we’ll eat ice cream together.). “…just imagine with me for one second: What if the thousands of people who spent money on buying one or two bags of ice actually gave that money to ALS? It would be out of control.”
What if the March of Dimes stopped making beautiful mailers to call for annual donations? What if the Red Cross of Connecticut just didn’t hold their annual gala? I know. I too believe that some nonprofits could really save money in certain areas to improve their bottom line. But in my opinion, it usually takes money to make money (within reason, of course).
I sincerely applaud the starters of the #IceBucketChallenge. I think it was a great idea that accomplished so much in such a short time. Like with any campaign, the message can get diluted, which I think is why many people are hating on the act. Some who participate and are unaware of why or are unclear on the message can cheapen or water down (no pun intended) the point to where it becomes, in fact, pointLESS. That’s simply a hazard of any campaign that grows at a speedy rate. Two thumbs up to the ALS masterminds behind this initiative from this PR gal.