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Published: Sunday August 24, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Sunday August 24, 2014 MYT 10:14:53 AM

Challenge for a good cause or a marketing ploy?

THE Ice Bucket Challenge has practically taken over social media and also given rise to discussions, such as whether it should be adopted, if it is suitable, if it’s a marketing tactic and if its objective has been realised.

Started in the United States, the “Ice Bucket Challenge” involves dumping a bucket of freezing cold water on one’s head to raise awareness and funds for research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease.

Apparently, dumping frigid water on one’s head is supposed to give you an idea of how ALS sufferers feel, so you can make a donation and then publicly challenge three other people.

The campaign has gone viral in Thailand’s online community, except Thai participants have decided to adapt the rules, such as choosing to donate to other good causes or changing the ice water to holy water.

The “Holy Water Challenge”, proposed by Kasikornbank chairman and chief executive Banthoon Lamsam, started off with Suthichai Yoon, chairman of Nation Multimedia Group, pouring holy water on Banthoon’s head on Thursday.

After getting his head wet, Banthoon said he would donate 100,000 baht (RM9,867) to the Siriraj Foundation, while his bank would give one million baht (RM98,967) to the same foundation for ALS patients.

Suthichai, meanwhile, said he would give 100,000 baht to the Regional Education Office No.12 in the South.

However, not everybody is excited about the Ice Bucket Challenge, with some social-media users posting photos of water shortages in Africa.

Singer Nichkhun Horvejkul (@Khunnie0624) tweeted: “It’s important to save lives, but it’s also important to save water. Sorry to disappoint you, but I will donate to a good cause instead.”

Phil Prajya Aura-ek, a Nation TV host, posted a challenge on social media on Tuesday, saying: Many people might have overlooked the fact that the ALS Association (ALSA) also raised about US$50,000 (RM158,000) last year.

1. Did you know that ALSA held a fund-raising event last year?

2. Have you ever heard of ALSA?

3. Do you realise that ALS is scary and is so close to your life?

So far (as of Tuesday), the viral campaign has attracted more than US$10mil (RM31.6mil).

Meanwhile, inspirational writer and coach Wisoot Sangarunlert said on Facebook that the #IceBucketChallengeTH was a very interesting global phenomenon in five aspects:

> It was easy and adaptable;

> It expands quickly – when one has to challenge three others, by the 10th layer there will be up to 88,570 participants;

> It’s easy to share online via Facebook, YouTube or the use of the #IceBucketChallenge hashtag;

> It has gained the attention of celebrities;

> It’s for charity.

“Without celebrities and international millionaires, this challenge would never have gone this far. I believe some people want to be challenged, as a proof of their existence.

“Plus the fact that it is for charity, for me, is the most important factor. Everybody can join without being branded as weird or a freak, because they’re doing it for a good cause. It’s PR and CSR at the same time.

“The ‘Gangnam Style’ or ‘Harlem Shake’ dances could never win this sort of response,” Wisoot wrote.

Film director Banjong Pisanthanakun, who has accepted the challenge and donated to SOS Children’s Villages Thailand, said the campaign had been initiated for a good cause, but because of its wide reach, it had also attracted a lot of criticism.

“Whatever you think, don’t blame or judge others. That’s going too far. Whether you do it or not is entirely up to you,” he said.

Thanks to social media, criticism can go everywhere. All one has to do is send out a key message or opt for @mashable to spread it via Twitter.

Yet one ALS sufferer named Anthony, who was diagnosed with the disease at age 26, has a message for all Ice Bucket Challenge haters at http://t.co/simmuVdiND. — The Nation/Asia News Network

Tags / Keywords: Regional, Marketing, Ice Bucket Challenge, Charity

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