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Ice Bucket Challenge Campaign Evaluation

ALS Bucket Challenge

ALS (or Ice) Bucket Challenge campaign had two major objectives: to attract the public’s attention to the problems of people suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and to raise money for ALS fund which would enable further research of the disease (Woolf, 2016). The project’s strategy was concerned with making as many people as possible involved in the charity movement. The variety of the campaign’s tactics enabled its extreme popularity. First of all, the timing was perfect: the campaign took place in June and August when people gladly joined the activity of dunking cold water over themselves. The next successful tactic was inviting celebrities to participate. When people saw their favorite actors, sportsmen, musicians, and other role-models join the ALS Bucket Challenge, their desire to take part in the campaign increased greatly (Olenski, 2014). Another tactic was concerned with personifying the project. In the beginning, the campaign was not connected to ALS problems. However, when Pete Frates (ex-player of Boston College baseball team) joined it and said he had ALS, the campaign obtained a new shade of meaning (Olenski, 2014).

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Two significant tactics were concentrating on the objectives and taking care of the campaign’s reputation (Olenski, 2014). Notwithstanding the critique, the ALS Bucket Challenge managed to raise a substantial amount of money due to being focused on its target. The campaign’s managers took care of sustaining a positive image of their project to be able to replicate in the future. Finally, a tactic that added to the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge was the simplicity of the movement’s rules (Olenski, 2014). A person had to either pour cold water over him/herself or donate money to the ALS fund. Then the participant named those who were supposed to continue the challenge. All of the tactics separately and together made the campaign so productive. Ice Bucket Challenge was evaluated as one of the most successful campaigns of such character. Even though many people criticized it (Woolf, 2016), eventually, the campaign was highly assessed for its contribution to ALS’s understanding and support.

Creating an effective message is a vital element of any social campaign which strives for success. In the case of the ALS Bucket Challenge, it was important to let the public know that ALS is a serious disorder that may impact anyone. To make a compelling message, it is necessary to take into account the following aspects: values, needs, costs, and benefits (Gould, 2009). In the Ice Bucket Challenge, the value theme was clearly defined through its aim to help the sick people. The message of need was sent as a request for help in fundraising. The costs required from the participants were minimal: some water and someone to take a video. The message about the campaign’s benefits was probably the most powerful: it delineated how the participants could help in researching the disease and eliminating people’s suffering from it. The campaign employed the following persuasive tactics and principles: liking, social proof, reciprocity, and authority (Mireles, 2014). The principle of liking was used to make people join the campaign by showing that it was fun combined with significant help to people. The social proof tactic was implemented via various ways of support in media and social websites. The principle of reciprocity was enacted by sharing information about the campaign by spreading posts on social websites and expressing encouragement to those who had not participated yet. The tactic of authority was employed by inviting influential people to participate in the campaign.

There are four models of public relations (PR), as proposed by James E. Grunig: press agentry/publicity, public information model, two-way asymmetrical, and two-way symmetrical models (“Models of public relations,” 2017). In the case of the ALS Bucket Challenge campaign, the two-way symmetrical model was employed. This type of PR is considered a perfect way of increasing the company’s or project’s reputation among the target market (“Models of public relations,” 2017). This PR model presupposes a two-way interaction between the campaign’s managers and the public. Information about the ALS Bucket Challenge was easily accessed and widely spread, which enabled communication between the participants and the organizational committee. A two-way symmetrical model allows resolving disagreements through negotiation and discussion. Special attention is also paid to the feedback from both sides (“Models of public relations,” 2017). Thus, a two-way symmetrical model that was used during the Ice Bucket Challenge led to productive outcomes and made the participants and campaign managers feel enthusiastic about further similar projects.

ALS Bucket Challenge was rather successful due to several factors. First of all, the campaign had a thorough strategy and effective tactics. Implementation of successful principles allowed managers to involve many people in the campaign and raise public awareness of ALS problems. Ice Bucket Challenge was able to customize its message to the audience and raise a substantial amount of money which was used to research the disease and find ways of eliminating people’s suffering. The use of a two-way symmetrical model of PR was rather productive and enabled communication between the organization and the participants.


Gould, M. R. (2009). The library PR handbook: High-impact communications. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Mireles, A. (2014). Persuasion: Six principles that power PR success. Cision. Web.

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Models of public relations. (2017). Web.

Olenski, S. (2014). Seven marketing lessons from the ALS ice bucket challenge. Forbes. Web.

Woolf, Nicky. (2016). Remember the ice bucket challenge? It just funded an ALS breakthrough. The Guardian. Web.

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