Sunday, 10 August 2014

An Open Letter: How About A Donation?

Summer is normally a time where one seeks some sort of cool refuge from the heat. Whether it's an air-conditioned abode or pond or lake or river or whatever body of water, there are lots of ways to stay cool in the summertime. However, the latest fad exploding across Twitter and Facebook seems to be the practice of dousing one's self in ice-cold water to help raise awareness of ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The idea is that by making these videos viral and by nominating others, we, as a society, can help raise awareness of the disease and possibly raise a few funds along the way via a donation. While this is admirable, there seems to be a fatal flaw in this idealism in that raising awareness for something through a one-time, ten second action neither raises funds or awareness.

According to the ALS Association, the Ice Bucket Challenge "involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness. Those who refuse to take the challenge are asked to make a donation to the ALS charity of their choice." Again, I have no issue with this idea. Raising awareness of a disease that literally sees your body breakdown as time passes is horrible to think about and I'd like to see a cure found. What the ALSA is doing is bringing this disease to the forefront through a unique viral marketing campaign.

The problem with this campaign, though, is that the vast majority of people producing the viral videos are multi-million dollar-earning athletes. Not one athlete has stepped forward and refused to take the Ice Bucket Challenge, meaning that all of them chose the fun option of pouring a bucket of ice water on their heads rather than making a donation to the ALSA. While they have every right to do this based on the parameters of the challenge, the fun of watching your friends pour ice-cold water over their heads and then challenging others to do the same is stripping away any awareness that this challenge is supposed to bring AND not one of these multi-millionaires has donated a dime to ALSA to help the battle against Lou Gehrig's disease. As you can see above, the Panthers didn't even bother to link back to the ALSA site or mention why their players are accepting the challenge to douse themselves in ice water.

It's almost as if this awareness campaign has backfired on itself as the athletes have fun instead of promoting the cause.

There are a few posts I've seen on Facebook and Twitter linking back to the ALSA's website, but how about one athlete - let's say a hockey player? - says, "No thanks. I'd rather donate." If that player were to donate, say, $10,000, that makes a major statement in not only helping the cause, but really bringing awareness to the ALSA. Here's how that conversation would play out for the fans who notice:
Fan #1: "Hey, did you hear that Player A said no to the ice bucket challenge?"
Fan #2: "No way, seriously?"
Fan #1: "Yeah, he decided to donate ten-grand instead."
Fan #2: "Wow. That's awesome."
Fan #1: "Yeah, that's money the ALSA can use."
Fan #2: "Totally. More athletes should do that."
Instead of being a pile of viral videos of players in wet t-shirts, you'd now have significant monies going to help the cause WHILE raising awareness. And isn't that what this marketing campaign is all about?

Look, I appreciate the players having fun with this idea, but the ALSA is no further ahead than where it started because no one has turned down the opportunity to dump a bucket of water on them, and the vast majority who have accepted the challenge have not posted anything with their videos about the ALSA or the Ice Bucket Challenge. The fact that this keeps happening shows that the players who are partaking in this aren't even aware of the video's purpose.

Stop picking up buckets, and start getting off your wallets, players. If you want to raise awareness, make a donation and tag that video appropriately so that the ALSA gets the recognition it desires as it tries to cure ALS once and for all.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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