28 August 2014

Why Has The Ice Bucket Challenge Been So Popular?

Me and my dog doing the Ice Bucket Challenge.
Almost everyone has heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge over the last couple of months. From celebrities to young children, pets to those who does even use social media, thousands worldwide are getting involved. This internet trend follows on from others which have been popular this year such as NekNominate originating in Australia between January and February, and the #nomakeupselfie campaign in March which raised over £8 million for Cancer Research UK in six days. But this trend has gone even further, with some figures claiming that over £48 million has been raised so far. The question I am trying to answer is, why has the Ice Bucket Challenge been so popular?

One reason which I think has been really important is that the challenge is hassle-free. A bag of ice costs £1 from supermarkets and in the Western world water is pretty easy to come by. You don't necessarily need a fancy contraption like Bill Gates, just an old mop bucket will do. There isn't much preparation necessary and other than the fact that you will be a bit cold and wet afterwards, there aren't any side effects or bad consequences (as there was with NekNominate). You can take part in the challenge wherever and whenever, on your lunch break, in the middle of town, on the beach or in the bath. As long as you have a towel nearby and a change of clothes then it's a reasonably easy challenge.

Celebrity participation has also played a massive part in raising this trend's publicity. With David Beckham, Simon Cowell, Lady Gaga, Jessie J, Kate Moss, Tom Hanks and many more taking on the challenge it's clear to see how popular it has been. An article I read recently reports that Celebrity endorsements fail to boost engagement with charities but I think the challenge does not fit to their findings. The Ice Bucket Challenge has been reported on hundreds of news channels globally which has increased people's awareness of ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or motor neurone disease) and there has been a fantastic influx of donations over the last months. When people see celebrities getting involved in the same trends as us and doing their bit for charity it promotes the idea to others.

This challenge is quite different from those before it. The NekNominate challenge primarily involved students and those who drunk alcohol. Although some did substitute alcohol for food or other disgusting solutions, this trend was reasonably exclusive. Similarly, the #nomakeupselfie campaign was targeted at women who wear make-up. Men who did want to get involved took to putting on as much make-up as possible but there were nowhere near as many taking part. The pictures posted by women who don't wear much make-up on a daily basis were not particularly exciting and those who wear a lot were not overly keen to take it off even for a good cause. And so this trend did not last as long as the Ice Bucket Challenge has. Anyone can take part in this challenge, poor or rich, young or old.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has an entertainment factor that doesn't seem to get old. Although most Facebook timelines at the moment are filled with these videos, there are still new and hilarious versions. Some of my favourites include people using JCB's, diggers and loaders; people falling over because their buckets are too heavy or getting their buckets dropped on them; people getting smacked on the head with MASSIVE chunks of ice and people managing to miss their own heads! It's like a really specific episode of You've Been Framed that goes on and on. People are getting entertainment combined with a feel-good factor of donating. Here's a good mix of some of the fails: (some strong language)

One last reason which most people might not think of but is also important is that this isn't a manufactured campaign. ALS didn't start it, there are basically no rules and it's not being pushed upon people. You are free to do the challenge in anyway you want, as long as there's ice, it goes over you and you nominate that's all that matters.

8 August 2014

COLOURBLIND: A Consumer Behaviour Experiment

From my previous posts you can see I've recently started learning how to make my own sweets. At a wedding tea party last weekend I took this one step further. I used my new-found sweet making talents to do an experiment on consumer behaviour. I wanted to find out if people's sweet choices were based on appearance or flavour, specifically their choice of heart-shaped wine gums! Does colour blind your decision?

Initially I wanted to make a variety of different flavoured, red wine gums. However, this presented difficulties, not in the sweet making process, as many food flavourings are colourless, but how would I be able to tell if people even realised there were different flavours? I would have had to draw attention to their differences which is not something I wanted to do. I wanted my experiment to be as unobtrusive as possible.

My other alternative, and the path I finally decided to take, was to make a variety of coloured wine gums, all in one flavour. This way I would be able to see if people choose sweets based on their colour rather than flavour. I chose lemon as the flavour for my wine gums and made the standard wine gum/fruit pastel colours: red, orange, yellow, green and purple. I wanted to see if people had preconceptions about the wine gums based on their colours. Would they assume the red was strawberry for example? And would they continue to eat the red ones, even though they tasted exactly the same as the other colours?

At the tea party I filmed the five separate bowls of different coloured wine gums. I then edited this footage and created this video:

I'd love to know what you think about this experiment so please leave me a comment, tweet me @_Sam_Blundell using #colourblind or let me know personally.