27 August 2014

Donate. Dump. Challenge. The Success of the #IceBucketChallenge

Getting people to create videos about themselves is difficult. Even getting them to send in #selfies when the prize is really really good can be like pulling teeth. As a social media marketer, I can't help but philosophize on the reasons why this challenge has taken off the way it has.

Here's how the #icebucketchallenge won the Internet:
  1. NOT A CAMPAIGN: It was unintentional and organic... it wasn't even a grass roots campaign. Until Pete Frates tied it to ALS, it was just another random Internet challenge. Straight from the people.

  2. PERSONAL CONNECTION: You get to see friends you haven't seen in years on video, not just in curated photos. Personally, that has been something I've enjoyed immensely. Video reveals tone of voice, body language and other nuances that I hadn't realized that I missed in friends from my past. 

  3. THROWING DOWN THE GAUNTLET: It's shameful to ignore a challenge, particularly when someone calls you out to your face... virtually. 

  4. MOTIVATING THROUGH GUILT: Many of us will do anything to appease our guilt. Adding the charitable element takes this up a notch from all the other challenges that I've ignored on Facebook (such as: "share 3 positives a day for 7 days, and invite 3 people each day to do the same" or "let's fill Facebook with Art").

  5. REMOVING INSECURITY: With #selfies we can take 100 pictures before finding one we like enough to post. It's only one angle we need to worry about... one pose. With video there are so many more things to be insecure about! Our voices, our gestures, the way we look from multiple directions. The #icebucketchallenge levels the playing field. We're all getting a bucket of water dumped on us in a very un-sexy way. It's down-right silly and that's what makes it wonderful.

  6. IT'S FUN FOR ALL AGES: People of all ages and lifestyles are doing this challenge. Most of my personal Facebook feed is made up of parents with young kids and this seems to be an activity they love to do together. 

  7. THE SCRIPT IS READY: The challenge is simple... donate, dump, then challenge. Not everyone follows the donate part of the script, but either way they spread the message. It's easy to figure out and follow.

  8. IT FEELS GOOD: There is a lot going on in the world right now that can make one feel helpless and depressed. Doing something silly lifts the spirits, and giving money to a charitable cause always feels good. 
Congratulations to ALS who have unexpectedly had a windfall year! And congratulations to all charities who are receiving extra funds due to the giving energy in the air.

If you're wondering where this all began, this CTV article does a great job of providing the history.
For the cynics, here's why it's "bad for you".
And here's a reaction to the cynics, telling the nay-sayers to back down.
And there are always the marketers weighing in – just like us.

~ Christina

08 February 2014

My Thoughts On Sochi 2014

With the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games beginning yesterday, my Facebook feed has been filled with chatter about so many things – human rights issues, animal rights issues, deplorable conditions for the delegates. 

And from my previous Vancouver 2010 colleagues there are nostalgic posts reminiscing about our time when the world shone its light on us, posts of pride for people we know working or volunteering with Sochi, and pride of Canadian athletes. 
It's a real mixed bag of emotions and I feel compelled to share my thoughts. And being 4 years away from my Olympic experience, I finally feel free to say what I really feel...

I take issue with 2 organizations related to Sochi 2014:

  • The International Olympic Committee (IOC)
  • The Russian Government

The terrible acts of cruelty and the demonstration of ignorance on Putin's part do not reflect the actual people of Russia. Nor do they reflect the Sochi Organizing committee. 

Though the IOC claims to be a not-for-profit, it is clear that its operations are run more like an enterprise level corporation. And according to Business Insider:  
"The IOC enjoys many benefits of being located in Switzerland, including non-disclosure of financial transactions and significant tax exemption for non-profits... The 115-member IOC "membership" is composed of royalty, Olympic athletes, and organizational leaders. Most of them are wealthy, including many corporate executives. President Jacques Rogge is a former chairman of the Belgium Olympic Council, an Olympic sailor, and an honorary count" (Read more: http://ow.ly/tpVTH). 
When I worked for the Olympic Games in Vancouver, I enjoyed the majority of the people I worked with, and revelled in the cultural and sporting celebrations. It was a truly amazing experience.
The cultural and sporting celebrations are amazing and the overall Olympic movement is a beautiful idea. The IOC and the Russian Government fail at living up to the values outlined in the movement and the Olympic Charter

The IOC has proven itself to be more concerned with money than with the movement and charter on which it was founded.
Here are a few reasons why I say this:

  • China and Russia were granted the Games even though they have a history of human rights violations before and during the bid process. And of course, throughout planning their respective Games.
  • There are still sports that the IOC will not allow women participants – Ski Jumping, for example which has only been added for Sochi 2014. One of the reasons given by was "As recently as 2005, Gian Franco Kasper, then president of the International Ski Federation said the sport "seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view" (http://www.torontosun.com/2014/02/07/womens-ski-jumping-makes-debut-at-sochi-olympics).
  • Delegates from the IOC demonstrated blatant sexist behaviour. While working for VANOC (the organizing committee for Vancouver 2010), our staff made up of about 400 people at the time with half of them being women, were addressed at an all staff meeting with many comments like this: "great to see so many beautiful ladies working here. The problem with ladies in sport is that they get pregnant. Like my colleague who couldn't be here because she is due soon." Given that the IOC were our bosses, and were based in Switzerland, there was nothing we could do about this sexist behaviour. 
Getting into the Olympic spirit, and supporting athletes and artists performing at the Games are all still important for spreading joy and love. Whether you watch the broadcasts or not is probably not going to make a big difference to these issues. 

So what do we do about it? 

  • Tell the IOC you want them to live up to their own charter – social media, petitions, letters, phone calls etc.
  • Don't buy tickets to the games. Don't buy licensed merchandise. 
  • Don't buy the products being sold by major sponsors. 
  • Tell major sponsors you are not buying their products during the Games – social media, petitions, letters, phone calls etc.
  • Support Russians who want new leadership.
  • Keep discussing issues of human rights (the right to be any colour of the rainbow) and animal rights.
So those are my opinions after being an insider for awhile – what are yours?