Brand icons such as the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Old Spice Man, KFC’s Colonel and McDonald’s Ronald McDonald have taken the challenge to take pot shots at their rivals. But is this tantamount to trivialising a critical issue like ALS?
Sarmistha Neogy | Mumbai | September 8, 2014
With the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge getting attention of people from all walks of life, brand icons and mascots could not be far behind. International brands are using the challenge to make a statement and also to promote their products. Brands like Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and brand mascots like the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Old Spice Man, KFC’s Colonel and McDonald’s Ronald McDonald have taken the challenge to highlight their respective product features and also to take pot shots at their rivals.
In one of the videos, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 phone takes the Ice Bucket Challenge, donates money to ALS and also nominates its competing water-proof phones - iPhone 5s, HTC One M8 and Nokia Lumia 930 - to take the challenge.
KFC’s Colonel Sanders gets himself dunked in a KFC bucket filled with ice. In the video, he further announces that for each participant accepting the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and using a KFC bucket, KFC will donate an additional $100, giving up to $10,000 in total.
Isaiah Mustafa, the American actor widely recognised as the Old Spice man, also accepted the challenge, but couldn’t complete it because ‘his perfectly cold muscles rejected cold water’, the video conveys. Even though he couldn’t perform the challenge, Mustafa pledged to donate $1,000 for the cause.
BestMediaInfo.com spoke to brand and digital experts to understand if it is a good idea to ride a popularity wave or exercise caution when dealing with sensitive issues like ALS.
Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults, said, “I don’t like the idea of brands taking the Ice Bucket Challenge. For me it is like fishing in muddy water. Personally, I have never liked the format of the Ice Bucket Challenge but it was okay, considering it was raising awareness on ALS. But now, with brands joining the league for their own marketing and publicity purposes, it has become very nasty. You are trivialising a critical issue like ALS.”
Bijoor expressed his disagreement in a tweet that he posted a few days ago.
Santosh Kumar, Co-founder, Webitude, said, “Social media is a space where the public considers the brand not as a product but more as a friend. Therefore, taking the Ice Bucket Challenge by brands is a very smart way of guerrilla marketing where they are diluting the proposition. There is no doubt that every brand leverages topical issues, but they should also act more responsibly. What I find with these brands is that they have forgotten the responsibility part. I liked the videos in which the employees of an organisation are seen undertaking the challenge; it shows rising awareness, has a fun element in the videos and money is being donated to the ALS fund.”
Pratik Gupta, Co-founder, Foxymoron, sees no harm in brands taking the challenge. “Brands in the social media space have become a personality by coming closer to people. So, my question is if individuals can undertake the Ice Bucket Challenge, why can’t brands?” he asked.
Zafar Rais, CEO, MindShift Interactive, informed us that within a short span of time, social media has helped the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raise both money and awareness very effectively. “The success of the challenge through the medium reinstates the greatness of social media. Over 28 million people across Facebook have posted, commented or liked a post related to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and over 1.2 million videos have been uploaded. The campaign has seen excellent awareness, celebrity involvement at an organic level and tons of chatter across the globe," he said.