22 Views On The #22pushup Challenge

30 September 2016

Two years on from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and social media users are posting videos of themselves to raise money for charity once again.

The 22 Push-Up Challenge, which began in the military and has swept its way across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter over the last month, involves uploading a video of yourself completing 22 press ups for 22 days for Combat Stress, a charity set up to support of veterans’ mental health and PTSD.  With each upload, participants nominate and tag somebody else to start their own challenge with the hashtag #22pushups.

Just when we thought charity ‘viral’ hashtags were exhausted and the nation was saturated by charity social media fads, this is actually working. And it certainly is working better than Macmillan’s Brave the Shave fundraising initiative which has received backlash for being patronising and offensive.

But why hasn’t #22pushups reached superstar fame yet and why is it unlikely to reach the same heights as #nomakeupselfie?

Here are my views:

1. The task might be too hard and long term to encourage wider engagement. 22 press ups for 22 days is a long… and frankly dull… task

2. People want to see it done once, but not appear on their newsfeed 22 times by the same person with the same uninspiring camera angle and backdrop

3. Women have received online scrutiny when they have taken part but done kneeling press ups (well, this is certainly true of my mini feed)

4. National print coverage for the initiative has been low, with only the Telegraph covering it in depth

5. When other nationals covered the story, they focused on the animals taking part, not the reason behind the initiative

6. There is confusion between #22kill and #22pushups hashtags and…

7. …there is a very blurred line between the above UK and US initiatives – with the UK initiative being for charity Combat Stress and the US for Honor Courage Commitment, using the hashtag #22kill

8. The stories behind the reasons why this initiative is taking place need to be brought out more. The video content for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge showing a young, newly married man affected by the disease was a strong story telling tool and something that is missing here

9. I love the goal of getting to 22 million press ups worldwide and a timer logging these…

10. …but this needs to be more visible and made clearer in paid, earned and shared media. And what will happen when the world gets to 22 million press ups?

11. I want to know how much has been raised so far and where the money will be spent. CRUK sent out regular earned, owned and shared comms about how much had been raised so far for #nomakeupselfie

12. It is good to see the charity has updated its social media profile pictures to push the initiative…

13. … but a more striking and impactful image and clearer text in on the picture would drive the campaign further

14. The footage is sadly quite dull and not as interesting to watch as your ex colleague getting covered in a bucket fall of iced water





15. The craze puts a tangible figure to the reason why people need to do this.

16. This helps keeps you fit rather than wet, shivering and make up free

17. It raises awareness of PTSD and the impacts on military personnel

18. Involving the UK’s police and fire personnel has increased interest and maintained momentum…

19. …and it is also good PR for the regional crews

20. The regional pick up has been strong, with titles such as Wales Online showcasing local men doing the challenge

21. And then the Chichester police force smashed everyone out of the park with their video of multiple decline press ups


22. But the real results will be when the total fundraising details have been released

In a nutshell, the idea works and is getting traction, but the full storytelling jigsaw pieces aren’t quite in place and rather than being widespread, this appears to be targeting a more select audience but with a more personal reason for it. I want to know fundraising updates, be repeatedly told a clear and simple CTA to drive the fundraising, see staff at the charity do the challenge and receive thank you updates from those affected by the condition. Some of these assets are sitting on the but need to be pushed out to other channels.

The veterans the charity is helping are the brand’s strongest storytelling tool, yet they seem to be left out from most of this book’s chapters.

– Liz Beswick, Editor