ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a classic viral marketing example that has to be studied by any one interested in marketing.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge involves dumping a bucket of ice on yourself to show your support to the spread the awareness about ALS. ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neuro-degenerative disease that affects the brain cells.

Here is a video of taking this challenge by technology genius, Bill Gates, showing his skills in creativity while taking the challenge.


There are quite a few reasons why I think ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a classic viral marketing technique that has to be studied in depth by any one interested in marketing.


The most important fact is that ALS Ice Bucket Challenge follows the classic SMART goals used in Project Management at various levels.

  • Specific: The ALS challenge involves performing a specific task, which is very easy to perform as any one can get a bucket filled with ice and water easily, and dump it on themselves.
  • Measurable: The challenge has a measured goal which states that you have to dump the bucket of water on yourself and then name three people who you would like to challenge.
  • Achievable: This challenge is so easy that any one who wants to do it can do it (of course, except the poor people in many countries who cannot afford to get a bucket of ice)
  • Relevant: This is about a cause and hence brings in a sense of relevance to anyone involved.
  • Time Bound: You have only 24 hours to do it or you have to pay 100USD towards the cause!

Though technology and social media has made it easy to spread the word in modern day world, some of the classic marketing reasons for the viral marketing success of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge are:

  • Influencers: The challenge started in April 2014 but went viral in July 2014 after it caught up among main stream celebrities in the US. Finding the right influencers is the key to the success of any marketing campaign.
  • Instant Gratification: It is always fun when you are able to upload a video of yourself after accomplishing something. It is the simplest form of instant gratification.
  • Scalability: This challenge uses a variation of Multi-Level-Marketing approach where you have to name three more people who have to take this challenge. Hence making it viral.
  • Cause: The cause here is such that everyone knows they can still support the cause, even if they have no clue of what ALS is.
  • Low Entry Barrier: As there is no profit or loss involved for any one in doing this challenge, it makes it easier to participate.

For the above reasons, I believe this is one of the best examples of viral marketing we have seen in recent times.