Skip to main content


Social Media Blog

Ice buckets and hijacks!

5th September 2014

Most of you will already be very aware of the social media buzz which has been created through the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’. It’s certainly generated plenty of interest, entertainment and new insights into the use of social media. And as ever, there’s been the good, the bad and the ugly! Once again this particular use of social media has caused many people to reflect on some personal challenges; privacy, profile, reputation, to name but a few.

Of course the mass-media corporations in print, digital ,TV and radio have once again took every opportunity they could to engage with the online surge of interaction and done their best to incorporate news features into their own streams. Most have failed, and most have focussed purely on the entertainment value, the failure of fund-raising, or the mis-use of donations by certain charities.

For those who don’t know, this particular viral campaign initially started in New Zealand in July and people were being encouraged to donate to a cancer charity having been filmed tipping a bucket of ice-cold-water over themselves. They ‘nominated’ friends on Facebook to do the same whilst recommending a charity for the donation. It was soon picked up in the US by an American Charity ‘ALS Association’ which provides support and research for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. This is the most common form of motor neurone disease, and the craze really took hold once some celebrities joined with the online frenzy, of course their friends were also celebrities.

We were entertained with the likes of top models, singers, actors – even Will Smith and Dolly Parton took part! And of course the nature of the socially connected world meant that soon FB users everywhere were being nominated and joining in including several Cosmic team members.

The campaign soon hit the UK with several charities putting themselves forwards as worthy recipients of the donations:

- MND Association 
- MacMillan 

Since the start of the campaign those two charities estimate that they’ve raised well over £10 million in additional donations.

In addition to this we also saw some highly entertaining and engaging examples of other charities using the campaign for its own purposes to highlight very worthwhile causes, click here to see one of our favourites. 

Due to the speed of this viral campaign the origins of campaign got lost slightly, which meant by the time it reached the UK it caused some fall-out between charities. You can read more about this here

Then came the ‘backlash’. The first stories of misuse of charitable funds started to circulate on the news and various channels. Some suggested that fewer than 48% of people participating actually donated, others trawled through the annual accounts of ALS to show how little of the donated funds actually goes to research for a cure into the condition.

So as with anything that is successful we could be pessimistic, but this campaign surely should only be looked at as positive. We need to embrace the fact that not only has awareness sky-rocketed around MND, ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease but an awful lot of money has been raised and it brought the human race just that little bit closer together around a common cause, and can’t be a bad thing.

So why do we think this particular campaign has been so successful? Well firstly it was fun, who doesn’t like to see their CEO have ice cold water tipped over their head? Take a look at our CEO Julie Hawker's video below!


Secondly it was able to capture the mind of people and spread like wildfire. Why? Because it was something that almost everyone could do and for some who weren’t able to throw ice cold water over their heads, they came up with a different way of being included. Watch this short video to see one way a little boy got involved.  

Another reason for its success was that it was easy to do and easy to share, although some individuals such as Bill Gates were inventive with their challenges. 
All in all it was so easy to do all you needed was a bucket, ice and a camera and with the ease of filming via your phone and linking straight to a social networking site. The whole process could be completed within minute – simple!!

In summary there may have been some controversy around this campaign, but it was a campaign that grew organically through the hearts of the people and raised awareness and money for worthwhile causes.