Ice ice baby – what can you dare your audience to do?

I imagine, if like me, you’re working in communications at the moment, you are watching the ice bucket challenge with a combination of intrigue and admiration. A lot has already been written about why this challenge is capturing the imagination of people world-wide and I can’t help trying to unravel it from a creative perspective a little bit more.

On the surface the challenge combines several well-established elements for gaining media coverage and consumer traction – involving celebrities (even better if they’re good looking, half naked and wet), a simple to-do challenge and a bit of cheekiness. It’s basically a digital chain letter and that in itself is nothing new. Scratch the surface and you discover that the challenge also contacts what psychologists call a double-bind in favour of the charity that works as a win-win for the challenger or nominator – do the dare and you look like you’re a good sport, don’t do it and you may believe that you’ll be perceived as ungenerous and unsupportive of the charity, so feel obliged to give a donation anyway. The option to do nothing is essentially removed unless an individual wants to completely go against the grain.

It seems to me to also tap into a trend that I noticed whilst judging this year at Cannes – DARE ME. The Silver Lions winner in the PR event category was by TBWA London for adidas and was called the D Rose Jump Store.  Kids in Hackney were ‘dared’ to show their basketball skills and jump like NBA player Derrick Rose to receive a pair of new sneakers in a simple and clever execution Having worked for adidas and Speedo in my career, this also cleverly used the ‘2-hour sports talent window’ that you get for PR in a truly impactful way.

A campaign that I personally loved that also won a Silver Lion in Event is the Hair Fest from Ogilvy and Mather Mexico for a cancer charity Casa De La Amistad, using a dare to appeal to a whole new audience for fundraising – heavy metal fans – give at least 25cm of your hair to make a wig for a child with cancer. These 2 campaigns also play on the Orange Rockcorps – give, get given – currency trend from several years ago.

Ice also taps into the crowdsourcing and co-creation trends that have been playing out for a while. So if you get into the seemingly inevitable conversation with a client or a colleague about how to ride this particular (icy wave) then ask yourself – what could you dare your audience to do?

If you want to read more about trends at Cannes Lions 2014 you can read my round up here.


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