Macmillan defends hijacking ice bucket challenge

Macmillan, the cancer charity, has defended itself from accusations of "hijacking" the ALS Association's ice bucket challenge craze, claiming it did not want to miss out on another social media phenomenon.

Macmillan Cancer Support: joins the Ice Bucket Challenge
Macmillan Cancer Support: joins the Ice Bucket Challenge

Amanda Neylon, the head of digital at Macmillian, said the charity got behind the ice bucket challenge, which asks participants to pour a bucket of iced water on their heads, because it was criticised for being too slow on the uptake for the #nomakeupselfie social media campaign in March, which raised millions of pounds for Cancer Research UK.

The ice bucket challenge began in the US, where it raised money for the ALS Association to combat Lou Gehrig’s Disease – or motor neurone disease, as it is commonly known in the UK.

On missing out on the #nomakeupselfie campaign, Neylon said: "We were too slow – it was a big motivator to be much better the next time an opportunity came along.

"So, since #nomakeupselfie, I’d like to think that we’ve had some success with #tubestrike and #thatsmydad. We’re trying to be bolder, we’re listening to what’s going on all over the world, and we’re responding more quickly than we have in the past."

The charity said it started its own social media and search campaign for the ice bucket challenge as a response to its supporters, after noticing they were discussing it on social media and raising money for the charity by doing the challenge on their own accord.

However, Macmillan has come under fire for jumping on ALS Association’s bandwagon and hijacking its campaign, particularly because cancer charities have a much higher profile than those for rare conditions like motor neurone disease.

Macmillan is asking people to film themselves doing the ice bucket challenge, posting it online and donating £3 to its cause by texting ICE to 70550.

People can also donate to the Motor Neurone Disease Association by texting ICED55 £5 – or any other amount – to 70070.

Many agencies and brands have got behind the Challenge, including the Engine-owned Jam. Watch others here. 

Things you need to know about the ice bucket challenge

  • It started in May 2014 as the "Cold Water Challenge" for particpants charity of choice.
  • National Fallen Firefighters Foundation was one of the first charies to take part in the "Cold Water Challenge".
  • US Television presenter Matt Lauer bought the Challenge to the mainstream on July 15 2014 on NBC's The Today Show.
  • On the same day golfer Chris Kennedy did the challenge and is the first to focus the fundraiser on ALS research. 
  • Former Boston College baseball Pete Frates, who has ALS began posting the Challenge on Twitter, along with his friend Corey Griffin.
  • The Challenge has raised $62.5million (£37.7million) for the US association, as well as £250,000 for its UK equivalent, the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA).