Unless you've been living in a cave, free from any smartphone, tablet or WiFi signal, chances have it, you've heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (ALS IBC) in itself is a viral sensation, showcasing how a charity has been able to create a cultural phenomenon while raising both funds and awareness for their cause at once. ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) is the most common of the five motor neuron diseases and is characterised by muscle spasticity, rapidly progressive weakness due to muscle atrophy, difficulty in speaking (dysarthria), swallowing (dysphagia), and breathing (dyspnea) - (see Wiki).
I first became aware of the ALS IBC three weeks ago when friends from my time abroad at The University of Vermont started uploading and challenging mutual friends of ours in my Newsfeed. Last Friday, Facebook released statistics "showing that 15 million people across the social network have posted about, commented or liked a post related to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. People have also posted more than 1.2 million videos." Since then, I have watched it continue to spread virally, permeating every social channel I use.
Unlike a lot of viral phenomenon, this challenge has been so successful it has managed to penetrate society's elite and famous, from Mark Zuckerberg challenging Bill Gates, to Dan Bilzerian challenging Ellen Degeneres.
While these challenges and peer nominations we're entraining (Bill Gates' was my personal favourite - who knew he was so funny?) I was yet to see anyone effectively leverage this phenomenon for their own branding and commercial gain. This all changed yesterday when I stumbled upon GoPro CEO's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video, (which appeared at the top of my Facebook newsfeed organically, I might add).
To the normal Facebook user, this may just seem like any other ALS IBC with a few more bells and whistles. As a social marketer, I saw a well planned and carefully executed, corporate branding and product demonstration exercise. GoPro's video is blatantly leveraging the virality of the ALS IBC in a trojan horse-esque method of 'story selling' to give exposure to their GoPro Hero3 camera.
Let's have a look at how they managed to do this:
- The video was shot at GoPro HQ, an environment which features an abundance of brand aligned extreme sporting memorabilia, actual GoPro branding and an insight into their cool company culture
- The video was shot on multiple GoPros, featuring and using different angles (panning while walking, in the ice bucket, first person view on the ice bucket and my personal favourite, on an unassisted flying object which then gives a panoramic view of their location)
- And in case you were in denial as to whether this was a marketing ploy or not, the video starts with a money shot of their GoPro HD Hero3+ and finishes with GoPro's "Be a HERO" branding and product shot
Given the context of the ALS IBC, some may see GoPro using this cultural phenomenon for commercial gain as a tad evil and in bad taste. However, as a piece of social marketing, this content leverages the power of word of mouse and has sent the GoPro brand message to thousands of people organically - with as few barriers to consumption as possible - and I personally think they did an awesome job. Essentially, GoPro dj'ed the ALS IBC, making an entertaining on brand marketing message in the process. My only concern is they made no mention of the amount they were donating to ALS on the Facebook post. For such a well thought out and planned campaign, I think you made a boo-boo here GoPro.