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Breaking Down the Ice Bucket Challenge

Breaking Down the Ice Bucket Challenge

What is the Ice Bucket Challenge? Learn how the challenge started and about the charity it supports.

The Ice Bucket Challenge—where people would dump cold ice on their heads for charity—has quietly existed for a while.

Former baseball player Pete Frates wanted to take on the challenge, but couldn’t because he suffers from ALS. So, he asked a friend to do it on his behalf to help raise donations & awareness for his cause.

That friend challenged other friends to do the same, and before long, this became a viral internet sensation. In August alone, there have been over 8.6 Million mentions of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Things really started to take off on Aug. 13, when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella filmed himself taking on the challenge—and before long, the tech community at large embraced the trend. Mark Zuckerberg joined the cause on Aug. 15, prompting another spike in buzz.

Volume really took off on Aug. 17, when Justin Bieber posted his video, and mentions peaked on Aug. 18 as more and more celebrities participated. Celebrities like Drake and Lady Gaga, athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo, and tech industry leaders, like Tim Cook, all rallied around the cause.

As more #IceBucketChallenge videos popped up, new participants strived to stand out with their own unique spin. Charlie Sheen’s twist (dumping a bucket not of ice, but of the money he’ll donate, over his head) was a huge hit, garnering the third most mentions in August, despite happening late in the game.

So who had the biggest influence on buzz? Take a look at the Top 10 celebrities generating mentions:

  1. Drake

  2. Justin Bieber

  3. Charlie Sheen

  4. Bill Gates

  5. Mark Zuckerberg

  6. Cristiano Ronaldo

  7. Oprah

  8. Ryan Seacrest

  9. Lady Gaga

  10. Tim Cook

We should also note that brands that took on the Ice Bucket Challenge were, for the most part, ineffective. Perhaps the most glaring example of this was Chili’s take on the challenge: pouring water over…a chili (netting a modest 570 mentions).

But that’s understandable: this challenge is about humanity, not stunts. It began with a man struggling and hoping to make a difference, reached our society’s most revered, and throughout was embraced friends and family closest to us.

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