Lessons Learned from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and How St. Luke’s Applies Them to Move Patients and Employees to Action

May 1, 2017

// By John Brand //

John Brand is the senior director of marketing and public relations at St. Luke’s University Health NetworkConsumer engagement is one of those terms-of-the-moment in marketing to which marketers apply a variety of meanings. At St. Luke’s University Health Network, a seven-hospital health system spread across northeastern Pennsylvania and northwestern New Jersey, we define it as compelling consumers to take action on behalf of our brand, primarily in social spaces.

St. Luke’s University Health NetworkCompelling consumers to take action on behalf of a health care brand is tricky, though. It often amazes me how disengaged consumers are with their local hospitals or health systems, yet they follow by the millions celebrities whose actions have no bearing on their lives and, even crazier, frequently help those celebrities sell products.

Launching Consumer Engagement Initiatives

Over the past five months, we have initiated two unique consumer engagement initiatives in the social media spaces aimed at consumer participation, which have performed measurably well.

The inspiration for these initiatives came from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which quite frankly floored me. It asked people in the Facebook space to record themselves dumping ice water on their heads, upload that video to their feeds, and then challenge friends to join the effort. As we all know, the concept helped raise millions for ALS research.

It didn’t matter if the consumers knew someone impacted by ALS, and it didn’t even tether the campaign to a particular story of someone with ALS. It simply encouraged consumers to join a cause, and I believe this is where health care marketing is headed.

What could we as health care marketers take from this and how could we apply it to the work we do?


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