3 Critical Lessons for Sponsors From The Ice Bucket Challenge

Raymond Bednar

Guest blog post from Raymond Bednar

If you have a Facebook account, by now you’ve seen dozens of friends, relatives and celebrities doused with ice water, in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Perhaps you’ve even been challenged – and accepted – yourself.

More than a fun event and a worthwhile fund-raiser, the Ice Bucket Challenge offers these lessons to marketers – and particularly sponsors – on how to engage consumers:

1. Extreme sells.

If this was the Lukewarm Water Challenge, everyone would yawn. But the Ice Bucket Challenge gets your attention because the very concept is a cold slap in the face (without actually being harmful, of course). This is the factor that makes extreme sports so worthy of consideration. In mainstream sports, “extreme” is winning a championship.

2. Viral is for real.

I’m sure you’ve participated in meetings where you discussed the power of viral marketing as a concept. You may even have seen impressive numbers from campaigns. But forget the numbers, this is a tangible, in-your-face example of viral marketing at work, expressed in tens of thousands of homemade videos.

3. It’s all about the idea.

Marketing and advertising firms have known this for years. If you come up with the right idea, management will buy (fund) it. That’s why you need creative people on staff.

Hard work isn’t enough, you need a blockbuster idea.

Taken together, these points illustrate the potential for the right sponsorship marketing idea to take off.

You don’t need a high profile sponsorship to make it work, either. Who would have listed ALS as among the first three charities to come to mind, prior to the Ice Bucket Challenge? Even now, you see ALS described as “better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Take the sponsorship marketing program you have, and find the “ice water” element. It has to be clever, simple, scalable and inexpensive. Like the Ice Bucket Challenge, it needs a call to action that compels consumers to take the next step in engaging your brand.

And yes, it helps if your idea has a social responsibility element. But it’s more important that it be fun.

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What is your blockbuster marketing idea?