TradeAutoX™ Launches Online Marketplace for Dealers & Wholesalers

With the introduction of a multitude of auto purchase apps and creative alternative marketing channels, traditional auto seller marketing strategies and tactics are quickly being impacted as fees continue to rise and margins decrease.  The art and science of managing used car inventory off the lot is seemingly more complex.  The automotive industry is set to adopt new technologies to replace and improve antiquated and cost laden systems.  One company, TradeAutoX™, has launched a 24/7 online marketing platform for dealers and wholesalers to buy and sell used car inventory in real time.

TradeAutoX™ was founded to create efficiencies, cultivate an exclusive network, and improve the bottom line for all parties involved in buying and selling of used car inventory. Founded by automotive industry veterans, Louis Robert Spaeth and Michael Zimmerman, TradeAutoX™ is redefining the online model for buying and selling cars. The combination of the robust online platform and the vetted Nationwide network differentiates TradeAutoX™ from the other digital solutions on the market. Spaeth and Zimmerman are focused and passionate about identifying ways to incorporate technology into an industry that is being failed by traditional processes.

“Franchised dealers and independent dealers can create their own network inside our site, solving a problem that has been a part of the landscape for decades.,” comments Robert Spaeth, CEO, TradeAutoX™.

With a mission to improve gross margins for dealers, reduce fees for wholesalers, and open opportunities for independent dealerships to source its own inventory, TradeAutoX™ is committed to adapting and improving its platform to meet the increasing demands of its members.

TradeAutoX™ partnered with Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) to customize an innovative platform, creating an online marketplace to connect end to end users. The Junction team is experienced and adept at building and fully implementing smart and customizable digital platforms. “As Junction’s portfolio continues to expand, the breadth of our expertise managing and executing multi-faceted, integrated strategies and solutions expands” says Gareleck. “We pride ourselves on responsibly taking on projects that we are confident our team can deliver on. We strive to not only meet our clients’ expectations but exceed them.”

For more information on how TradeAutoX™ is redefining the online model for buying and selling cars, visit

March Madness, The Final Marketers’ Trifecta Event

The Trifecta of sporting events sponsorship only comes along every four years. With the 2018 Winter Olympics barely closed, the craziness of March Madness looms just around the corner as eager, but cautious, mega brands are contemplating an advertising strategy. The stratospheric costs to play the advertising game at this year’s Super Bowl had even the most hardened and committed marketers nervous about the value of the play. For some brands, the opportunity to pull off a triple play permitted them to spread the risk, making the adventure more palatable. For those who failed to demonstrate a winning performance on Super Bowl Sunday, the Olympics provided a chance to at least score a medal at PyeongChang or bring home an upset victory at March Madness.

Last year the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship generated a record-setting $1.24 Billion in television advertising spend. The three week event known as “March Madness” provides brands an integrated platform of offline and online channels, social media conversations, branded placements and experiential events. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is consistently the second largest post-season sports franchise, trailing only the National Football League (NFL) playoffs. The NCAA has successfully monetized the sporting event through media rights fees and corporate sponsorship payments.

The ad generating opportunity doesn’t end at video streaming and traditional television media. With all the games streaming online, fans and sponsors can connect through live video casts, real-time scores, statistics and other related content through web browsers and mobile apps. Facebook continues to take a more proactive role in playing the statistical game. Marketers will be able to tap into fans’ conversations to increase exposure. Facebook conversations during March Madness 2016 grew by an astounding 40 percent year over year. Worldwide more than 650 million people are connected to a sports-related page on the network, while 165 million follow a sports account on Instagram.

Making the sporting trifecta commitment doesn’t insolate ad players from losing though. With fan participation falling in major sporting events, muffing the ad-ball out of bounds can still result in some marketers being benched.  “You’re not necessarily going to get fired for putting more money on YouTube or more money in Google search, Facebook or even Snapchat at this point in time,” said one media buyer in 2017. “Yet they may question you when you say you’re going to spend $5 million on a Super Bowl spot, or $1.5 on the NCAA tourney and have it fall flat or be an unexciting game or have it underdeliver.”

Unlike the digital play call where social analytics effectiveness can be evaluated immediately, video, display and sponsorship advertising often requires an incubation period following the performance to measure success or failure. The cumulative, longer term impact of even an effective cross-channel effort may not be fully realized for months after the game’s champions are crowned. The marketing champion of this year’s big trifecta remains to be seen.

Super Bowl Advertising: What and Who Defines a Winner?

At the beginning of each year something unique occurs in the advertising world. In an era where viewers use the latest technology to block and avoid most commercials, even the most avoidant advertisement public turns in anticipation to the Super Bowl, not just for the football but for the game’s commercials. While the action on the field remains the most attractive aspect of Super Bowl Sunday, the commercial breaks enjoy an equal share of the game’s viewer attention and anticipation. With mega numbers of fans tuning into the big championship game, broadcasters command as much as $5 million dollars for a 30-second commercial time slot. Takers line up to eagerly pay the cost to entertain the fans and, hopefully, motivate them into buying their wares. Other major sporting events, such as March Madness, the World Series and the Olympics successfully gather together millions of watchers but the business of advertising for those events pales both in cost, creativity and participation in comparison to the NFL’s Super Bowl.

At the conclusion of each year’s game, while sportscasters recount the maneuvers, plays and players on the field, marketing and media pundits pour over the commercial line-up to determine which advertiser scored the most points with viewers. The competition is intense, and with the cost to play the ad game so high, failing to make a play effectively can relegate a company to bench-sitting status. What makes a successful Super Bowl commercial? Messages and approach vary widely among marketers and, while social and political slants are a regular staple, the content and purpose of the advertisement often takes a back seat to an entertainment element. Comedy generally garners the most appreciation from viewers followed by a generous emotional pulling of the heart strings. Characterizations, animation and pets tend to do very well, but dark, preachy social messaging can hit a sour note among the usually large diverse audience. So, who scored the most points and who received the most penalty yardage in 2018?

The answer is: It depends. The Dirty Dancing ad was wildly popular for its comedic entertainment but left many viewers asking, “What are they selling?” Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice” spot was named most entertaining and best overall among marketing pros surveyed by Morning Consult for Ad Age’s first Super Bowl ranking, not just for its entertainment value but for brand effectiveness. For sci-fi fans, Sprint scored a touchdown for its “Evelyn” play call, and Budweiser got those among us who are suckers for an emotional play cheering for its “Stand by Me” performance on the field. Pringles advanced the variety of flavors ball for several first downs, and Danny DeVito’s portrayal of the Red M&M scored extra points. Pepsi, a long-time veteran of the Super Bowl advertising game, took fans down a Pepsi commercial memory lane, while Skittles turned the traditional Super Bowl advertising model in a whole different direction. At the final tick of the game clock, the chronology of the winners was to be determined by the various perceptions of the audience.

Ultimately, the winners in this advertising contest between the best teams in industry will be those who cross the finish line with increased sales, advanced brand recognition or a shinier corporate social reputation. Popularity and likability does not always translate into consumer action. If the intent is to motivate the fans in front of the video screens to make a purchase, studies show that Super Bowl ads, regardless of their cool factor, are very poor stimulators of consumer intent to purchase.

Past studies by Genesis Media have found that 90 percent of consumer game viewers do not buy products based on Super Bowl ads, and 75 percent fail to even remember the previous year’s game winning ads. Advertising Benchmark’s ABX copy test scores indicate the overall results for the 2017 Super Bowl commercials were nothing to brag about. In fact, using standard ad effectiveness criteria, last year’s ads were a disappointment, at best. Overall scores of the last 5 Super Bowls generally fall short of ad norms.

If generating a lasting effect was the Super Bowl advertisers‘ ultimate goal, the leader is Lexus, whose Super Bowl ad was a crossover with the forthcoming Marvel movie “Black Panther,” followed closely by Jeep. This according to ListenFirst Media, which calculated the change in the advertisers’ social media followings after the game, considering both the absolute gain and rise relative to the starting point.

Bowl game advertisers should note, the same $5 million dollar spend would have bought 576 million mobile impressions. Just saying.

Super Bowl Advertisement: Risk Versus Reward

With the price of a 30-second Super Bowl advertisement consistently on the rise, advertising for the Super Bowl has never been an easy decision for marketers. The decision has been complicated in recent years by the political and social protests that appear to have the NFL viewer interests showing a downward trend. Add the serious concern over players’ head injuries, the 2018 Super Bowl marketplace may not be the promising investment for advertisers that it once was. Considering that a 30-second ad costs upwards of $5 million for the 2018 Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, the decision to spend potentially $10 million dollars for a Super Bowl campaign can be concerning to those charged with calculating the impact.

The falling ratings in NFL viewership this year can be traced, at least in part, to the League’s insistence on mixing political and social protest issues on the field of play. “ Average game viewership has fallen to 15 million this season, down from 16.5 million last year and the lowest since 2008, according to data compiled by RBC Capital Markets. Analyst Steven Cahall says, “The sustained decline is what worries investors about media’s willingness to offload the NFL’s monetization risk.”

The danger of insulting consumers isn’t limited to the team owners and league management. In the past, Bowl advertisers such as Nationwide, 84 Lumber, HomeAway and GoDaddy have been sharply criticized for  Super Bowl spots. A $5 million backfire can be particularly startling, even to a well-healed brand. The ultimate questions remains “is leaving a really good impression worth $166, 667 per second?”

A recent study, “Super Bowl Ads,” indicates that the value of Super Bowl ads can persist beyond the conclusion of the big game. The study, co-authored by Wesley Hartmann of Stanford University and Daniel Klapper of Humboldt University in Germany, shows that the benefits from Super Bowl ads actually persist beyond the game’s conclusion with increased sales during subsequent sporting events like the NCAA’s “March Madness,” NBA playoffs and MLB games. Further, the research finds that the gains in sales are much more substantial when the advertiser is the sole advertiser from its market category or niche in a particular event.

Klapper says, “As the exclusive beer advertiser in the Super Bowl for many years, Budweiser outperforms competitors for consumption during the Super Bowl. Our findings suggest that there may be value for advertisers to negotiate exclusive advertising rights within a category to generate greater long-term value and it may make sense for the telecaster to offer such exclusive rights at a higher price. However, even though Coke does not exhibit increased consumption during the week prior to the game despite years of advertising during it, Super Bowl ads do help sell Coke after the game, especially among sports fans.”

In addition, the study’s co-author added, “For some type of ads, there is a large social media multiplier by provoking interest and subsequent conversations on social media and mass media that could be independent of Super Bowl viewership. That is good news for advertisers as it suggests that our estimates are only a lower bound of the benefits of Super Bowl advertising.”

Regardless of the falling fortunes, Super Bowl LII is expected to draw more than 100 million viewers with 70 percent of the Nation’s televisions tuned to the event. Last year the game attracted 190.8 million social media interactions from Facebook and Twitter.

Check back after the Super Bowl to see which advertisements hit the mark!

Prepare to Take Advantage of Prevailing Trends in Marketing for 2018

At the beginning of each year, prognosticators and crystal ball enthusiasts practice the craft of forecasting coming trends in everything from the coming year’s sports champions to the price of all things necessary or extravagant. The field of marketing has its own bevy of practitioners providing perceived trends for the coming year.  Regardless of the direction taken to connect best with customers in 2018, the journey will be marked by continued advances in technology and shifting consumer acceptance and utilization of that technology.

Newspapers, magazines and other written media channels will continue to see significant erosion in influencing consumers in 2018. With the rapid advancement and consumer acceptance of digital communication technologies, hard copy collateral’s decline appears to be in a free-fall that will be difficult or improbable to stem.  The forecast for 2018 predicts another 6.8 percent decline for the embattled industry segment. However, the traditional print media are not the only marketing purveyors predicted to suffer set-back in the coming year.

As other social media outlets continue to experience growth in user base, Twitter was unable to advance the ball in 2017. Twitter sought to increase its number of users by increasing the popular 140-character limit to 280. It didn’t prove to be the key to differentiate itself among other social media leaders. Marketers are already using other social media platforms to connect with prospects in more than 140 characters. It is a trend of decline for Twitter that some predict will continue in 2018.

With more platforms incorporating big data capabilities within platform infrastructure, marketers will tap into the myriad of consumer data points in order to remain competitive. In addition, consumers are expected to continue embracing interfaces that require little or no physical inputs, such as the smart speaker.  People are interacting with these devices as part of their daily lives, using voice commands and listening to the results.  Thus, there is a substantial opportunity for marketers to communicate with them in a different way.

Additional marketing tactics predicted to be winners in 2018 include:

Influencer Marketing.  Influencer marketing is expected to remain a useful strategy. With nearly 95 percent of marketers touting it a successful strategy in 2017, brands are expected to continue utilizing influencers to connect with their customers through social media.

Apps.  The future of apps remains bright. A prediction for 2018 suggests strong growth in app utilization and capitalization.

Live Events.  Nearly 66 percent of marketers say that they will increase their participation in hosting live events in 2018. Live event hosting remains a reliable and highly effective marketing channel.

Social Media.  “Social media has undoubtedly become a critical platform for marketers,” said E.J. McGowan, vice president and managing director of Campaigner. According to a digital marketing forecast survey by Campaigner, 73 percent of digital marketers believe it was a top strategy in 2017. Using video to carry more of the message through social media is forecast to rise in the coming year. “In their easily digestible format, videos serve as an excellent way to convey a brand’s message in a creative and interactive way,” says E.J. McGowan. “As a result, social networks and other media have made it easier for individuals to consume and broadcast video. As video continues to grow at a prodigious pace, marketers must learn to adopt this disruptive technology or risk falling behind to competition.”

Augmented Reality.  Ground gains are anticipated in the utilization of augmented-reality (AR) content. As new devices like iPhone 8 and iPhone X populate and go mainstream, brands will begin to increase their exposure through AR-branded content.

In-Car Advertising.  As driverless cars begin to arrive on the roads of America in greater numbers, in-car advertising may be the new frontier in advertising.

The best marketers may be those who effectively blend multiple digital channels to engage with their customers. The trend in social media integration is to combine marketing strategies to impact a broader audience.  “The most crucial integration this year, however, is social media and email,” said McGowan. “When leveraged correctly, social media and email marketing can have a synergistic relationship for brands, with social media driving email subscriptions and emails bringing more followers to social channels. Marketers should coordinate the timing and content of posts and emails, and ensure congruent messages are being sent across all channels. Marketers can leverage these social networking sites in 2018 by crafting media campaigns that highlight the strengths of each site,” continued McGowan. “For instance, video may fare very well on Facebook; however, marketers should pivot back to text content when launching campaigns on LinkedIn.”

“While some industries have embraced the paradigm shift in how they reach, engage, and mobilize new customers, I predict that we will see even more attention and focus being placed on getting the marketing mix correct,” comments Julie Gareleck, CEO& Managing Partner, Junction Creative Solutions. “The buzz word used to be ‘contextual’ but we reached that stage when consumers adopted smart devices.  ‘Relevance’ is going to be the buzz word for 2018.”

How are your strategies stacking up in the New Year!?


Julie Cropp Gareleck, CEO and Managing Partner, Junction Creative, participated in Atlanta Business X’s Radio Show “Tuesdays with Corey.” Gareleck shared insights from her days as a waitress in Gettysburg, PA to her current position as the CEO of her Atlanta based firm.  Corey Rieck, President and Founder of The Long Term Care Planning Group, sponsors the show each month, highlighting women entrepreneurs, CEOs, and executives.

When asked about her experience growing up in a family business, Gareleck shared that her goal was to become a reporter like Barbara Walters.  Unbeknownst to her, the passion she held for people and helping people drove her to launch Junction Creative, a hybrid between a traditional consulting firm and an advertising agency, melding intellectual insights with creative execution.  To listen to her journey, forward to 30 minutes into the full interview.

“I greatly appreciate being included as a member of this panel alongside Barb Giamanco, Barbara LoRusso, Corey Rieck, and the team at Atlanta Business Radio X,” comments Gareleck.  “The collective knowledge sitting around the table made for a great conversation about some of the critical elements for success in business.”

Click here to listen to the entire show!

More information on each panelist is below:

Corey Rieck is the President and Founder of The Long Term Care Planning Group, a firm that specializes in delivering Long Term Care education and coverage to companies, high net worth individuals and large organizations. Since 2001, Corey has devoted his career to Long Term Care as a result of multiple personal experiences.  A neutral provider of Long Term Care Solutions since 2001, Corey brings a unique and comprehensive consultative perspective to this issue.  Since 2003, part of his commitment to the Long Term Care Industry includes his having trained over 3,500 advisors from San Francisco to Wall Street on how to properly position Long Term Care to clients through the CLTC organization.

Corey hosts a weekly show call “Tuesdays with Corey” on Atlanta Business Radio.

Barb Giamanco heads up Social Centered Selling. She’s the co-author of The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media and authored the Harvard Business Review article Tweet Me, Friend Me, Make Me Buy.

With a successful C-level background in Sales, Technology and Leadership Development, Barb capped her corporate career at Microsoft, where she led sales teams and coached executives. Through the years she has sold $1B in sales.

Barb is consistently recognized as a Top Sales and Business Blogger, a Top 25 Influential Leader in Sales, a Top 25 Sales Influencer on Twitter and one of Top Sales World’s Top 50 Sales and Marketing Influencers for the 3rd year in a row. And recently, Barb was named one of the Top 65 Business Influencers among other leaders such as Ariana Huffington, Melinda Gates and Sheryl Sandberg.

Connect with Barb on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Barbara LoRusso is the Director of Client Development for LoRusso Law Firm, an Atlanta-based civil litigation firm opened by her husband, Lance LoRusso, almost 10 years ago. Prior to this, Barbara was doing consulting and research work for a non-profit trade association here in Atlanta for almost 20 years. She has a Ph.D. in Applied Psychology from University of Georgia and went to Emory as an undergraduate.

Barbara has been an active volunteer with charitable organizations and currently serves on the board of SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center in Marietta.

Connect with Barbara on LinkedIn.

Julie Cropp Gareleck

Born into an entrepreneurial family, Julie Gareleck was convinced that business was not her passion and that becoming a reporter was more intriguing. At the age of 21, Julie punched her international card, in Paris, working for Angela de Bona, the top PR Agent, representing the top fashion photographers in the world. A venture to Philadelphia after Paris directed Julie to work for a leading entrepreneurship institute.

In a few short years, she was recruited to join a venture capital organization, focused on early stage companies in Technology, Biotechnology, among other industries, as its Executive Director. Julie earned her place in the Board Room at the age of 25.

A transition to Atlanta over 12 years ago enabled Julie to take her strategy experience and work as a senior strategist for interactive advertising agencies. It was here that Julie realized there was a gap between business-based strategy and what was defined as strategy at agencies. Junction Creative Solutions was born out of the need for strategies that intersect key business segments and the need for a firm that can manage the implementation. For over 8 years, Junction has worked with nearly 225 companies, helping do just that.

Julie has created an environment that empowers her team and her clients to be the very best they can be, and success follows naturally. She has earned the respect of her peers not just for her shining personality, but for her authenticity, integrity, and drive as a business leader. Her portfolio includes measurable integrated strategies for prominent brands across various industries, including Yahoo!, Mailboxes Etc., National City Corporation (PNC Bank), GE Energy, Mohawk Industries, Schweitzer-Mauduit International, Inc. (SWM), and Alcatel-Lucent. Early stage companies in the portfolio include AcuteCare Telemedicine, 85 Broads, Intelaplay, Competitive Sports Analysis, XIOSS, Infinite Resource Solutions, Guardian Watch, Pro Diligence, Cost Management Group, the National Tennis Foundation, Saffire Vapor, among others.

Julie established the JXN Executive Roundtable in 2012 as a resource for entrepreneurs, senior executives, and marketing leaders to share industry experiences and insights. She remains actively involved in industry organizations often participating as an expert panelist or guest speaker.

Follow Junction Creative on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

A Platform for Good and Evil


Prior to the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, the sharing of a message to the masses was almost exclusively reserved for those few who possessed the skills and education to put pen to paper or those who mastered the art of great oration. The advent of the printing press soon saw the power to move an audience to action gravitate to the media barons of print than onto the videographers of the 20th century. The arrival of the information age and digital communication technology ushered in a new era where news not only traveled at lights speed, but was carried virtually unfiltered to the masses through untraditional media outlets called the internet and a plethora of social media venues.

The power of social media has rapidly increased our access to breaking news and current events, and has created an efficient channel for marketers and consumers alike to promote and communicate their messages to specific audiences. More and more people now use social media as their core source for information. The social community is faster than traditional news outlets and allows the recipient the ability to respond personally to world events in real time.  Social media and the internet is a powerful and viral media vehicle that is the major source for news, an effective way for marketers to engage consumers and everyday users to populate their message to the world.

But along with the many good attributes of the internet, and its technological companion social media, comes the bad and the ugly. The far and free reach of the internet is giving radical extremists the ability to connect to millions of disaffected and delusional with their message of hatred and destruction. With the assistance of skilled marketing techniques, new age Jihadists are recruiting an army of zealots to kill the innocent and create havoc and calamity on the worlds established societies.  The recruiters of evil are able to connect with hard-core believers and sociopaths in their own living rooms utilizing graphic and violent, murderous videos. Ed Bridgeman, a criminal justice professor at the University of Cincinnati says of the recruiting efforts, “Among the differences today are the tools of the recruiter’s trade. The Internet is full of opportunities to share and package propaganda in ways never before possible.

”The recent acts of violence in Paris France was reported quickly through digital media;  each ugly act of violence playing out in real time across the screens of laptops, iPads and smart phones all across the world. But while the atrocities of evil ruled in the immediate, a response to the tragedies prevailed through an outpouring of support for the victims and condemnation of the extremist. Soon the bad and ugly were countered by the mobilization of all those who are good among the technology and who tweeted, messaged and texted in solidarity against the atrocities of evil.

Has The Real Meaning Of Labor Day Been Lost?

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It began in 1882 when a labor activist and officer of the Central Labor Union of New York, Matthew McGuire, first proposed a holiday to recognize and honor the country’s blue collar workers for their contribution to the prosperity of the American economy.  Blue collar labor was soon to become the strength behind the booming Industrial Revolution and the world’s most successful free market economy.

The holiday was a state-by-state observance until President Grover Cleveland signed legislation making it a national holiday in 1884. In the early part of the first 100 years of its existence, Labor Day became a day of rest, celebration and recognition of the contributions made by the American labor movement. Soon, generations of Americans were to become better known for how they labored as for who they were.

Today the holiday is observed more for its marking of the end of summer, closing of public swimming pools, starting of the new school year and the fashion end-point of wearing white; than it is for the contributions of the American worker. Punctuated by grand family and friends picnics, concerts and numerous outdoor celebratory activities, today’s typical Labor Day revelator would be well-challenged to cite the real purpose and significance of the holiday. The Labor Day parade, once a staple of nearly every industrial community throughout the country, is now re-enacted by a relatively few towns and burgs and the day’s once elevated purpose and importance is orated by a scant few industry leaders and politicians. The day initiated and set-aside to recognize the importance of work to the advancing of the American way of life is becoming a day off for fewer and fewer American workers.

The celebratory parades and public orations have morphed into Labor Day sales events and boisterous marketing content in a time more likely to see our society’s praise and appreciation focused more on the technological gadgets that have come to replace many millions of the traditional blue collar jobs in a new revolutionary world economy. In a time of celebration of all things high tech and innovating, our appreciation and recognition for the contributions of past and present labor generations are being over-shadowed and mostly misunderstood by the new Millennial’s generation.

Our grandfathers and great grandfathers once toiled in massive shops of machining and assembly, inventing and refining the mechanizations that resulted in the replacement of their very professions. Their efforts spawned a new era of opportunity and prosperity for countless workers who labored in new professions in an ever-innovating economy. But as technology advances at an ever-faster pace, new levels of laborers are seeing their professions disappear with few promises of more promising professions to follow. Is the fog of the newest technological revolution soon to dissipate to reveal a more positive outlook for the American laborer or is it more likely to lead to the celebration of a new holiday, Technology Day?

As we debate the question and ponder the future of labor and its place and impact on our society, let’s take this Labor Day to honor and celebrate all those who have lead us to enjoy the greatest and most generous of societies.

Ice Bucket Challenge A Social Media Success Raining Cold Cash

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We’ll never know how many people will ultimately feel the thrill of the chill in the splash-for-cash craze known as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. But there’s not an icicle’s chance in the Sahara to doubt that the viral social media blitz taken to backyards and ballfields across America has been a windfall for the ALS Foundation.

Former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates has been living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) since 2012 and is credited with launching the phenomenon where supporters pour buckets of ice and water onto themselves in order to raise awareness and cash for the disease. Frates is pictured above at Fenway Park in Boston.

Participation across the country just in the last two weeks has reached tsunami level and shows no signs of ebbing any time soon.

As of Sunday, Aug. 17, the deluge of donations had reached $13.3 million raised for the non-profit ALS Association, up considerably from the $1.6 million during the same period last year. More than 1.2 million challenge-related videos have been shared on Facebook. The ALS Association’s mission is to treat and find a cure for ALS, as well as providing care and support for those suffering from it.

Of those giving cold cash, 260,000 are new donors. Those challenged by friends on social outlets like Facebook have 24 hours to complete their own dousing, or contribute $100 to ALS. Obviously those wielding buckets are contributing financial flood as well.

There is basically no method to track how many have taken the challenge as the ether, social and otherwise, continues to be awash with individuals being doused. But the roster of the wetted is a cavalcade of sports, TV and silver screen, political and entertainment personalities, including Justin Timberlake, Martha Stewart, Michael Strahan, Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Christie, Oprah Winfrey and Ethel Kennedy. President Barack Obama passed on the challenge and said he would make a contribution.

Members of the Junction Creative team joined in accepting their challenges. Director of Operations Marci Cropp made a video-selfie of her dousing, in honor of a friend dealing with ALS. Account Executive B.J. Small was drenched, as well.

As many as 30,000 Americans are living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease at any given time. Beloved professional baseball player Lou Gehrig brought ALS to the national and international forefront, when it ended his career. The disease is so often associated with Gehrig that it bears his name. It strikes worldwide between the ages of 40 and 70 most commonly. Life expectancy for those with ALS is between two and five years. It is not contagious and is responsible for nearly two deaths per hundred thousand population. It is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease, affecting nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. As motor neurons from the brain to spinal cord to muscles die, patients in later stages of ALS become totally paralyzed.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has been the perfect blend of motivations as a project that would appeal to the masses: a worthwhile cause; compassionate enlightenment of the disease by those close to those suffering the most and, as exhibited by the challenge itself, even total strangers; an opportunity to produce unique selfies; and a theatrical curtain call for adding value to social media posts.

As with most popular movements, the challenge has its cynics and jealousies as the legion of the drenched continues to swell. Some see the rising tide as mere grandstanding. The term “slacktivism” has been attached to the effort. Slacktivism is the act of “donating” a social media post in lieu of cash; as if an individual post is of higher value than a monetary contribution.

Pete Frates may have triggered the tidal wave of cash for ALS, but the challenge actually rained funds onto other charities earlier this summer. “Today” show anchor Matt Lauer was plunged live, on-air to support a hospital in July. As well, there are Facebook posts of the challenge being accepted by supporters of the cause “Girls on the Run.”

It may be impossible to quantify the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in terms of total social posts, buckets of water dripped, ice cubes tipped, and shivers and squeals from the shock of each personal, polar vortex. Motives themselves may continue to be challenged.

But the cold, hard-water fact is, more people know more about ALS now than ever before, and the cause is saturated with funding to do its good work.


Perhaps it Means a Little Bit More?


Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, seasonal music and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world and is a significant, vital supporter of many nations’ economies.  In an ever increasingly diverse and often divisive world, Christmas is one of the few times when many millions of people come together to enjoy a shared experience.

For marketers of all things marketable the season is a time when annual sales objectives are realized, financial losses turned into gains and prospects and promise for another year realized.  The season is filled with many traditions formed by many generations, yielding many memories and emotions. Selling to those traditions, memories and emotions provides a cornucopia of marketing tactics; anticipation, trust, surprise and admiration.  As a result of the effort, this year the holiday season will produce an estimated $602.1 billion in sales and revenue for the nations’ retailers, who will hire an additional 750,000 seasonal workers help them realize the increased sales volume throughout the holiday period.  The impact of the season on the economics of this nation and many more around the world cannot be overstated. But with it all, the Christmas holiday brings with it a whole other dimension:

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” ~Dr. Seuss

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and peace on earth, good will to all.