One Hundred Million Views

The Rise and Fall of Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 Campaign

What is Invisible Children?
Charity based out of San Diego founded in 2004
Dedicated to bringing awareness to the bloody conflict in Uganda involving Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA and employer of child soldiers The org makes documentaries, mobilizes groups of people, supports onthe-ground protection efforts, and helps defectors of the LRA heal

What Started it All?
Invisible Children launched the 30 minute ‘Kony 2012’ video at midnight on March 5, 2012.

The video called for viewers to unite and bring attention to Joseph Kony and the LRA.
The documentary went viral and set a world record for fastest video to 100M views. Can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watc h?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc

Initial Reaction
100M+ views in 6 days Massive outpouring of support 500,000+ orders of ‘action kits’ Celebrity support from Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Diddy, Ryan Seacrest, etc.

Thousands of media requests
Exposure for founders on major networks

Critical Reaction
Intense backlash against organization and the campaign

Accusations of trivialization, fraud, ulterior motives, and misappropriation of donations
Numerous websites and blogs created to discredit Invisible Children

Popular press articles written criticizing the organization and the campaign by most major news networks
Smear campaigns launched against Invisible Children leadership

Fallout
Website crashes

Inconsistent messages and messengers
Mental breakdown of Jason Russell, IC’s founder and Kony 2012 director

Abysmal turn-out for crucial ‘cover the night’ event

Results
2013 saw lowest revenue since 2005

Cut 56% of head office jobs and 17% of Ugandan jobs
No multi-city tours or documentaries planned May struggle to find the 6.2M needed to keep programs running

Lessons
Start with the central message and ensure the whole team is on the same page

Prove you are experts in your area
Be ready for criticism and have a solid plan to handle detractors Emotional appeals work, but have substance ready for those hungry to help Never underestimate the power of viral media to effect change or damage

Resources
• March 9, 2014 article: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jtes/two-years-afterkony-2012-has-invisible-children-grown-up • March 26, 2014 article: • http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/26/obamakony-2014-troops-bigger-conflict-uganda • March 7, 2012 article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-deibert/joseph-kony-2012children_b_1327417.html • January 11, 2013 article http://www.news.com.au/world/remember-kony-2012-well- its2013-what-happened/story-fndir2ev-1226550575923