Health

The next ice bucket? New 'challenges' test the formula

Aug. 28, 2014 at 10:56 AM ET

Elise Amendola / AP
Two women get doused during the ice bucket challenge at Boston's Copley Square, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 to raise funds and awareness for ALS. The idea is easy: Take a bucket of ice water, dump it over your head, video it and post it on social media. Then challenge your friends, strangers, even celebrities to do the same within 24 hours or pay up for charity.

In the last month, it's dominated social media, soaked countless people and garnered tens of millions of dollars in donations for a devastating neurodegenerative disease.

Now some are piggybacking off the success of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to promote other causes. From feeding the poor to fighting Ebola, new social media campaigns are either putting their own twist on doing good with a bucket or, more simply, name-checking the Ice Bucket Challenge as they follow the now tried-and-true model of completing a challenge and then nominating others to do the same.

But can others emulate the $94 million and counting success?

President Bush Takes the Ice Bucket Challenge

Relying on a gimmick isn't a great strategy for anyone seeking sustained support, said Glen Macdonald, the president of the Wealth and Giving Forum, an organization of philanthropists. Macdonald advises that charities, in particular, focus on campaigns that deliver messages relevant to their specific missions.

"With another type of copycat initiative or gimmick, I think people will say 'Been there, done that,'" Macdonald said. Some of the newer campaigns lack the fun and humor that's helped make the Ice Bucket Challenge so popular, said Christine Outram, VP, Invention Director at advertising agency Deutsch LA.

"There's a weird joy about watching someone pour a bucket of ice cold water over their heads," Outram said. "It takes away from the seriousness of the issue in some ways, but it also becomes much more inherently original and shareable."

That's not to say, Outram added, that other campaigns won't meet their own goals."The mechanics are there to share awareness with other people," she said. "It's all about setting a metric for success."

Check out some Ice Bucket-inspired campaigns.

Lather Against Ebola

The "Lather Against Ebola" campaign in the Ivory Coast encourages people to douse themselves with soapy water and then give out three bottles of hand sanitizer, stressing the message that hygienic measures can help prevent the spread of the deadly virus. Ivory Coast blogger Edith Brou reportedly originated the campaign, using the French language hashtag #MousserContreEbola.“Ivorians take the drama out of everything through humour,” Brou told The Associated Press. “But in spite of the funny aspect of it, the message is forwarded on and listened to.”

Rice Bucket Challenge

No one is getting wet from the bucket challenge sweeping India these days; they're getting fed. In the Rice Bucket Challenge, participants post pictures of themselves holding buckets of rice with the hashtag #ricebucketchallenge and then donate the rice to a local food bank or someone in need.The campaign, which attracted more than 40,000 likes on its Facebook page, was started by Manju Latha Kalanidihi, an editor at the rice news company, Oryza.com."We are rice eating country, and what can be better than donating rice to someone in need?" she told the Indian news website The News Minute.

Rubble Bucket Challenge

Journalist Ayman al Aloul sought support for Gaza and Palestinians by dumping a bucket of rubble from destroyed buildings over his head."It came to my mind that it's good idea to show the whole picture — how Gaza looks now, rubble, destruction, cement with sand, small rocks," al Aloul told NBC News. A Facebook page promoting the challenge has encouraged more participants despite the recent ceasefire. It has gotten more than 9,000 likes.

Bullet Bucket Challenge

Actor Orlando Jones dumped shell casings instead of water over his head in a bid to "reverse the hate" following the police shooting of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri, and subsequent clashes between law enforcement and protesters. "This past week I've watched an American city become something akin to a war zone," Jones said in a video that has racked up more than 1.6 million views on YouTube. Jones said that as a member of the NRA and a "special member" of a Louisiana police force — he later clarified on his blog that he's a "reserve sheriff" — he wasn't trying to point fingers at anyone but himself. "I'm challenging myself to listen without prejudice, to love without limits and to reverse the hate...and hopefully you'll accept this challenge, too," he said.

Ice Water Challenge

Facebook user "Towing Billy" was nominated to do an ice bucket challenge, but decided to go another direction: The tow truck owner bought supplies and food for a homeless man and his toddler daughter in Honolulu."Everybody out there on social media, flaunting money, put your money where your mouth is, make a difference in somebody's life," Billy said in a video he posted to his Facebook page.The video, which shows the propane stove, canned soup, bottled water and other items Billy gave to the homeless man, has been shared nearly 9,000 times."It's spreading and it's humbling," Billy told the Huffington Post. "I am just amazed at how far this thing has gone."

ISIS Bucket Challenge

In perhaps the most quixotic take-off of the Ice Bucket Challenge, radio show host Mike Slater, of the conservative network The Blaze, dumped what he claimed to be hot soup on his head in an apparent challenge to ISIS, the terrorist network that recently released a video showing the brutal execution of an American journalist. Slater initially dedicated the feat to three news industry celebrities — liberal TV host Rachel Maddow, fake TV news host Jon Stewart and activist filmmaker Michael Moore — but then seemingly changed his mind, saying, "No wait, this goes to that guy in the black hood from ISIS." Two days later, Slater posted a second video saying that many were upset by his "ISIS Bucket Challenge" and admitting that he hadn't used soup after all. "I just wanted you to know it wasn't really soup and it wasn't really hot. Don't believe everything you see on YouTube," he said.

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