Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Ice Bucket Blackmail

One can only revel in the success of the year. Now here's a marketing campaign that takes social pressure and peer pressure to new heights.

Either you pour cold water over yourself, or you donate money to a charity of my choice. Those are your options, friend.

Yes, you can dedicate one day a week to help out a Cancer Charity, have a standing order to donate on a monthly basis, adopt an elephant, help every homeless person you see while being cautious you only buy ethical products and are careful not to waste energy in between the moments you are not rescuing abandoned animals...

What? You don't want to throw cold water over... and not donate either? Spoilsport! Unethical person. Weirdo. Intellectual. 

How lovely the feeling you've not only had a fun moment, saw your number of Facebook Likes climb to 50, had the opportunity to show yourself without shirt or in a glossy setting - while knowing you've done a good deed, and you're excused again for another year.

It's called slacktivism. Activism for the lazy. Or as a study puts it: people who share a charity or cause through social media are much less likely to donate or actually do something. They are rewarded with the feel they do so.

Don't get me wrong. Grossing 80 million dollar, not to mention a whole generation suddenly knowing the acronym ALS - how fantastic is that? Whether it's emotional blackmail or not, the equivalent of a chain letter or not, only the fun game of the moment or not, people who were in need have been helped.

And, after all, all marketing and sales strategies are based on our human fear not to fit in, not to be liked, not to belong to a tribe, and our permanent wish to have a great front door, be it through liking the right music, carrying the right smartphone and wearing the right Brand or driving the right car. Things we can be seen with. 

Let's just hope that the hype of 2015 will be about millions of people saving water, actually caring or setting aside 4 hours a week to help a charity, or better still - ensuring that charity is no longer necessary.

I cross my fingers for the moment it becomes fashionable to ask each other: "At what charity are you working every Saturday"? 

This is the real achievement of the Ice Bucket Challenge: that even the many negative reviews out there still help, since they too raise awareness, make other charities profit in the slipstream, and start a social debate. 

And now we're used to it, let's all start just taking cold showers. Imagine the energy we save by doing that


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