Why Did ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Go Viral? 7 Good Reasons.

Models doing ice bucket challenge
Models doing ice bucket challenge

At this moment, marketers around the world are trying to replicate what has happened with the ALS ice-bucket challenge. See the ALS Association website (news) if you’ve somehow missed this unplanned viral campaign that’s exploding from celebrities and your community.

First some context. Few knew until now, but ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It was brought to attention by major league baseball player Lou Gerhig (whose name is synonymous with the disease). I’m happy for ALS because it’s getting the awareness and discussion otherwise reserved for breast cancer.

The ice-bucket challenge isn’t new, but the ALS angle seems to originate as follows: a golf trainer challenged a Sarasota NY professional golfer, Chris Kennedy, to dump a bucket of ice water on his head AND choose a charity to support. In mid-July he took the offer, and chose the ALS because his wife’s cousin has it.

So how did it go viral?

Based on my experience as a “Viral Video Genius,” I’ll now outline seven of the reasons this ALS cold-water challenge has caught fire. Let me confess that while I’m thrilled for ALS awareness, I’m also burnt out on the ice-bucket challenge. I kinda throw up in my mouth when I hear “I nominate…” soon followed by a giggling scream. But please feel free to enjoy the blooper reel: ALS ice-bucket fail compilation video I created. It’s been seen about 75,000 times.

I’ve also provided some examples below to underscore my theories, which are, of course, highly credible since I’m a viral author. So now you’ll sound very sophisticated when you analyze the ice-bucket campaign at work, home and with friends.

  1. als, viral, challenge, secret, why, how
    Why did the ALS ice-bucket, cold water challenge go viral? Easy, timebound, personalized, exponential and charitable.

    It’s one-to-one and exponential. Each person names 3 people they know, so if just half (1.5) of those people respond, it spreads extremely quickly. “Tagging” a person in a video has worked before. Remember naked vlog tag from 2008

  2. Let's just hope that other charitable efforts don't reuse the "ice bucket" like they did with Livestrong bracelets
    Let’s just hope that other charitable efforts don’t reuse the “ice bucket” like they did with Livestrong bracelets

    It’s charitable not commercial. Of course it doesn’t matter what charity has benefited, because it’s unlikely that the majority of this was motivated by a personal connection to ALS. Charitable efforts go viral because they appeal to our generosity (and our desire for recognition of said generosity). Think about the explosive impact of the Hank and John Green (Vlogbrothers) Project for Awesome. If it was breast cancer, we’d have seen this go further. Of course it can’t work for another charity now. Find something new, folks. Don’t pull a “Livestrong Rip” on this.

  3. It’s time bound. The “24 hour” plea is a vital ingredient. That forces the recipient to act or not act. And guilt prevents the latter. These things need to be fast to work, and we know quickly if it’s a success. Think Kony 2012 (Feb 2012 through April 2012), which lasted about 3 months and was forgotten.
  4. Participation is formulaic. People like to join these types of games if the assignment is easy. That’s why the Harlem Shake took off… it was a very short, simple formula that almost anyone could replicate. Do you remember the Chicken Soup dance? Same idea.
  5. It’s easy. With the proliferation of video-enabled smart phones, no editing is required. That factor isn’t exclusive to this challenge, but certainly enables participation by the unwashed masses (instead of elite web or online-video junkies). It’s like a video meme we can all join.
  6. It’s a visceral, visual stunt. Same idea as Gangnam Style, but you don’t need skills.
  7. We like modest pain. It shows our courage and discipline. Remember the cinnamon challenge? I did a “double dog dare” with eating worms, but it unsurprisingly didn’t catch fire. We seem to have a strange fascination especially with getting iced. But most don’t have the conviction to do the “polar bear plunge.” Although frankly, I’d do the plunge to end this campaign.

There is actually an eighth reason that has something to do with wet t-shirts, but I’m not going to count that one.

Deplorable Comedy Insults Handicapped, Ice Cream People & Grease

Get ready for the Lawsuits. In a horrible satire at the expense of handicapped people and ice-cream men, the comedy channel “JustForLaughsTV” created this atrocity below. In addition to stigmatizing one-handed people with “claw hands,” it defaces all ice cream people everywhere. And rips off the soundtrack from “Summer Loving” (Grease).

Parenthetically, the lawsuit by the ice cream man that appeared in my “Creepy Ice Cream Man” video was dismissed earlier this month from federal district court (see court opinion pdf). While the case was dropped because the court has no rulings on most of the plaintiff’s claims, that doesn’t rule out his successive lawsuits in other state courts, federal court, neighborhood court, the Ice Cream court, and the Supreme Court.

Fortunately my defense (based on parody/satire/free speech and the fact that “hurting someone’s feelings” is not grounds for a lawsuit) will require a simple copy/paste and is solid.

Unfortunately no lawsuit will likely help the poor ice cream man (who happened to be selling ice cream when I was inspired to satire my own fear of ice cream people) will reclaim whatever he claims the video did to him. I make that assumption that because my attempts to remedy it more gentleman-like (non-legal) methods have had no apparent effect — apologizing via phone, removing it, filing DCMA claim on unauthorized posts, apologizing in writing, apologizing in person to him and his family, offering a retraction, offering a donation to charity, offering a nuisance settlement, and apologizing again.

The ice cream man even contacted local Pa. media disparaging me, in what could be considered a calculated act of defamation. But I’m not terribly excited about filing a counter suit because, well, ice cream is too delicious to sue.

Ice Age’s “Scrat” Reacts to Drunk German Squirrel

Ice Age's prehistoric saber-toothed squirrel who is addicted to crack cocaine.

The ‘demon squirrel’ clip (below) has become a smash hit on the internet, according to the UK Telegraph. It’s been seen more than one million times, and is attracting a slew of critical and positive comments. The video is part of the Kremlin’s toughest anti-alcohol campaign, and was released after President Dmitry Medvedev described the country’s drinking problem as “a national disaster.”

Meanwhile on states side, reactions to the animated squirrel have been negative, including criticism by the poster animal for the anit-drug campaign initiated by Nancy Reagan.

“I recognize the clip is meant to be cautionary tale about the effects of binging on alcohol,” said Scat (pictured, right), who played a crack-cocaine lit squirrel on ICE AGE, by 20th Century Fox.

“But seriously- that nappy-haired, poorly animated piece of Pixar crap is teaching us nothing,” Scat added, while rubbing his nose spastically and screaming for his pimp. “I’ve done three films and I’m being considered by James Cameron for a cameo in Avatar 3. F that little Пиздец!”

Your Drunk Uncle Squirrel