Like many people in the last two or three days I watched the “Invisible Children” Kony 2012 campaign video yesterday morning. I say campaign because that is, after all, what it is. Use a cute kid, some great editing and in the words of the video itself “propaganda” and you’ve got the beginnings of an excellent viral marketing piece. Add in a bit of a controversial element – a 5 year old being told about a warlord and all his terrible crimes and it’s bound to gain a good sized audience.
And if that was all it was it might be easy to dismiss the cause. To say ‘ok, we get that there’s a good point to this video – but you’re not the first to make a funky and poignant video and try to move the masses’.
How about if you combine all those ingredients – slick video, cute kid, poignant subject matter, controversy and then ice that already pretty tasty cake with a simple call to action. A call to action so easy and so relevant to everyone that who can turn it down?
All in all this is like a marketing person’s dream – well for me as a marketing person I think it is!! Here is a person who understands how to present a message, make it meaningful to the mass public, and here’s what’s the most amazing thing… eventuate 46 million hits (and still increasing). FORTY. SIX. MILLION. That’s over twice as many people have watched that video than live in Australia. It is two-thirds the number of people living in the United Kingdom. It’s bloody incredible and I think it makes it YouTube’s most watched video of all time. But this is not fact- merely presumption.
Now, I appreciate good marketing but it doesn’t mean I buy into it. Yet, here are the reasons it worked for me, even as a marketer who is pretty cynical about most propaganda and viral marketing (unless it’s just for a bit of fun).
1. It tells a compelling story and then has the guts to admit the flaws – e.g. the problem is not in Uganda anymore, however it has moved to other areas, it was originally turned down as an operation backed by the US government partly because it did not figure on the things that the US needed to involve themselves in on foreign soil – and this has good justification: if they get involved in any criminal/warlord hunts it endangers their country. It needs funding… yes, surprise surprise, they need money – and we’re some people they’re looking to to help with that. But realistically it needs the backing of big names so it gets enough political edge to gain the funding from the guys with all the money – the US Government – this is all imparted in a story that doesn’t cut corners to make it easy to swallow in a short package. And let’s face it- it’s thirty minutes long. What other viral marketing piece do you know that people would watch at that length, let alone get 46million+ hits?
2. It not only makes the call to action easy but it takes you on the journey to how it’ll all tie together. This is not just – please click on this website to give support, or buy these products, and spread the word. This is – spread the word because we want to make this guy famous. The more famous he is the more the dominos keep falling until we have the attention and backing of the people we need to enable this campaign to move forward.
How simple is that. How little effort does that take?
And, by the way, critics have said ‘well this is a scam, nothing is that simple, they want your money’. Of course they want money – what cause doesn’t?! Stupid, non point. Of course it’s a ploy for our action and our money. But we can just choose action.
And then there are those critics who say that it appeals to laziness -that those who want to make a difference cannot just do so by pasting a poster up be it virtually on their Facebook page or on a telegraph pole.
The beauty of social media is that it is very possible to get a message spread very quickly through a mass of people that make up the population of several countries. Time is of the essence though, as most discussions/causes have a use-by-date on their popularity in the social media. But seize the day… and when it’s caught fire it will spread – just try and stop it! Have we forgotten our history, those people who rose up against their governments in mass revolution – and in the countries that are struggling such as Turkey we can see that still happening. We might all be sat behind a computer seemingly minding our own business and shutting the lid of our laptop to the problems of our world. But if you tell a person – hey look, this crappy dude is doing this unthinkable stuff to 30,000 kids in Africa – can you just jump on board and spread the word then you might get a few people to pay heed. If you go one step further and grant them to have the intelligence they were born with then you’ll explain your reasoning behind asking them and you’ll convey your plan, and then some more people will go OK I hear ya buddy.
People WILL act if they THINK it will make a difference- the human race was born to do it!!
3. I’ll admit, half way through watching I wasn’t sold. I was like – how many **cked up things happen in this world? How many times have I watched a documentary and wished to god every one else in the world would watch it and turn around and do something. Just DO something. And me – how many times have I sworn I’d recycle every single piece of rubbish possible in my kitchen and then naughtily thrown away the odd butter tub because I was in too much of a hurry to wash it (not too often but it should never happen!). I watched Food Inc. and was appalled- visited the website, posted about it on Facebook and Twitter and then a few days later promptly (and disgustingly) forgot all about it (until now!). There are many Konys (Konies?), Saddams and Bin Ladens in the world. How on earth can we fix this?
And then the video began to answer my internal questions.
We know it said. We know that this is just one of many problems, one of the long list of World’s Most Wanted, but if we can make this work, we can do it again and again. If we can catch Kony, that is one less monster in this world.
And it’s free. It’s free to help Heal the World (thanks Jacko)… and yes you can start with the Man in the Mirror (ok I promise to stop)! And now… now that it’s taken off so massively… it’s also cool to help. Or whatever the kids are saying these days. Sick… it’s SICK bro -that is one SICK cause. Yes… in both senses of the word, cos let’s face it, Kony like Osama before him, and Hitler… and many men before him is one pretty sick man.
Yep, this is about pure and simple – propaganda. Using what you have available to you… to assemble the masses and get them to spread the message. Get behind it or don’t. But at least appreciate it for an amazing piece of marketing. Forty six million hits. 46 million…
Over and out for now…