Seventy-five years after New York Yankees icon Lou Gehrig gave his “The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has captured an unprecedented amount of attention. The rapid awareness of ALS isn’t due to Major League Baseball’s poignant commemoration of Gehrig’s early retirement over the July 4th holiday. Rather, it’s attributed to another ball player, Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in his 20s.

Since mid-July, a dare issued by Pete’s friends has gone viral thanks to video and the Web. The #ALSIceBucketChallenge has spurred thousands of people to create videos shared across social media challenging others to dump a bucket of ice water and / or donate to an ALS-related organization. To date, $15 million has been raised for ALS, a disease that affects 30,000 here in the United States. The general public’s perception of this disease has grown exponentially thanks to 1.2 million videos shared across Facebook and over 2.2 million Twitter mentions.

Organizations dedicate significant budget in an attempt to achieve the results generated through this grassroots campaign. Marketers can best utilize video, the star of any campaign, by implementing some of the following 5-points highlighted by the Ice Bucket Challenge.

1.   User Generated Video

Back in 2007-2008, user generated content was a dominant theme in video marketing. Before the widespread adoption of mobile phones, regular people used Flip cameras and other devices to shoot video. Today, smart devices make it easy for everyone to shoot and share video content. User generated video can serve as the basis for marketing campaigns in support of a range of initiatives. Although a celebrity is in the video, the video done by Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher is a great example of user generated content:

2.  Social Video

Once referred to as viral video, social video is content share across different social media networks. Word of Mouth is one of the most basic, most successful and most impactful marketing tactics. Engaging video entices people to share the content with their friends. Simple hashtags, like #ALSIceBucketChallenge or #StrikeOutALS, can elevate social video by making it easy for viewers to associate the content with the larger campaign. One of the most shared Ice Bucket Challenge videos was Bill Gates own take on the challenge which has garnered over 9.5 million views to date:

3.  Crowdsourcing

Similar in vein to user generated video, crowdsourcing encourages the public to financially support a cause or idea. The “dare” aspect to the Ice Bucket Challenge tasked participants to create a video incorporating a direct call to action asking “nominees” to either participate or donate (preferably both). This tactic can easily be applied to cause related marketing or product development. Incorporating a call to action is a video best practice, whether the content is for crowdsourcing or another purpose. Charlie Sheen had his own take on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, focusing on the donation:

4.  Professional Video Production

The vast majority of videos created in support of the Ice Bucket challenge were self-produced. Even media personalities, celebrities and athletes shot their own content. However, some participants upped the ante by creating memorable video content. NHL player Paul Bissonnette leveraged aerial cameras to create this awe-inspiring video:

Due in part to donated services, Bissonnette’s budget was a mere $175. Logistics aside, Bissonnette’s video serves as an excellent example of how the 80/20 rule can be applied to a range of video marketing efforts.


5.  Content Marketing

The last point of the 5-point online video star is content marketing. Compelling video can be the spark that enlivens websites and engages audiences. The Ice Bucket Challenge’s execution was serendipitous. One man with a disease had a group of friends who wanted to raise awareness. The unique ability of audiovisual content to use sound and motion to tell a story sparked a cause related marketing revolution. A simple message with a direct call to action generated awe-inspiring results. One of the kings of video content marketing is Jimmy Fallon:


The Ice Bucket Challenge illustrates how video content can be the star of any organization’s marketing campaign, but works particularly well for a nonprofit like ALS. And if your organization can leverage just a fraction of the influence the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has generated with their 5 point video content marketing campaign, you’ll be doing alright.

There has been some criticizing of the campaign for people clicking and posting with little actual impact on the cause. The fact of the matter is that this backlash by a smattering of media outlets and individuals means the campaign truly had an impact and any charitable organization would take a 680% increase in donations.

Pete Frates is no longer able to speak. Back in December of last year he was still able to speak and this video was his story:

In the video Pete Frates makes the appeal, “The story right now goes: You get ALS, have it for a little while, a long while, but either way, the end is always the same. ALS always wins. So in order to rewrite the end of it, we need to raise awareness, money.” Well done sir and THAT is what the #ALSIceBucketChallenge is TRULY all about.