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The #IceBucketChallenge: Is it just “clicktivism”?

Posted: Tuesday August 19, 2014 • Category: Marketing

Over the last two weeks, you may have noticed an increase of videos of people dumping cold water on themselves posted on social media. These videos are part of the #IceBucketChallenge. The challenge is very simple: pour ice water on yourself and film it within 24 hours of receiving an invitation or donate $100 towards Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research. You may know ALS as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. 

 
The ALS Association created the Ice Bucket Challenge campaign, challenge and hashtag on August 6 to raise money for the illness. Like other viral-activism campaigns, such as the Polar Plunge Challenge cancer fundraiser earlier this year, many have criticized the Ice Bucket Challenge as a form of “clicktivism” that ultimately delivers more faux-activist pride to the participants than funds to the ALS researchers. 
 
However, digital content data and marketing technology company Amobee scanned over 2 billion mentions and saw the number of viewers who saw or read content that referred to the terms “ALS”, “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” and “Ice Bucket Challenge” have gone through the roof over the last two weeks. The term “ALS” increased by 1,007% and content that mentioned “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” increased 1,167%.
 
The increase is visible in more areas than just online content. The rate and total amount of donations have significantly risen as well. TIME reported, as of August 18, the organization’s national office has received $15.6 million for Lou Gehrig’s Disease since July 29, compared to $1.8 million in the same period last year.
 
ALS affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of motor neurons, which reach from the brain to the spinal cord and the spinal cord to the muscles, eventually leads to the neurons death. When motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of ALS may become totally paralyzed. ALS is not completely understood, but recent years have brought a wealth of new scientific discovery regarding the physiology of the disease. While there is no treatment or cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease, there is one FDA approved drug, Riluzole, that modestly slows down the progression of the disease.
 
Robertson & Markowitz Advertising and Public Relations supports the challenge and the ALS Association, so we are nominating Ted and Lisa for the #IceBucketChallenge! Go to our Facebook page to watch the video of Ted and Lisa's #IceBucketChallenge.
 

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