The ice bucket challenge has taken over the world with its marketing message to support ALS. I’ll dare to assume you’ve all seen it – whether highlighted by a huge celebrity on a TV show or on social media. But have we all understood the message? I had absolutely no idea why all these people were tipping iced water over themselves. At times it had the tendency to look like a dare. But when I saw Bill Gates, Oprah, Justin Timberlake, and other “A list” celebrities take the challenge, I realised there was something I was missing.
It wasn’t until the challenge reached Australia and someone translated ALS to being Motor Neurone Disease that I fully understood the marketing message.
Has the campaign been a success in communicating its marketing message? My opinion is yes and no. But that’s what happens when the greater community, who don’t necessarily care about the message, are the marketers. You can’t be guaranteed you will have people who care as much as you about delivering the message accurately. A friend took the ice bucket challenge last week. I asked why he didn’t translate ALS to Motor Neurone Disease in the video whose audience would be Australian. His answer: “I said what the person holding the camera told me to say”. An example of the marketing message being delivered by (possibly) the wrong person. He knew he was doing something worthy, but not sure why. On the flip side, the people who have nursed and lost loved ones to ALS/Motor Neurone Disease, have been passionate in delivering the campaign’s marketing message – raising awareness and funds for research on the disease. These people care about raising awareness and finding a cure and are clear to ask people to donate. In my work as beyondblue Ambassador, there was an induction day. All ambassadors are trained on the organisation’s message, what the role is and their expectations. We are clear on how they want us to delivering their message on mental health. The marketing impact is beyondblue have Ambassadors who have been affected by mental health – personally or as carers. They know their Ambassadors care about delivering their marketing message accurately.
With a viral marketing campaign delivery is near impossible to control. And for ALS it would have been about weighing up the pros of making a ruckus versus some missed opportunities.
ALS Foundation has received over $100M in donations plus media coverage unlike ever before. It is now important for them to keep this momentum when the world moves to the next cause – remember Kony 2012? As a business, you can’t always control how the marketplace communicates your brand, your message, what you do. But you can work on making your marketing message simple, clear and universally understood so it can’t be lost in translation. Better yet, if its something people care about.