24 June 2012

Kony 2012: Analysis of Communication Success

Kony 2012. The web says it’s a scam, Whitespacelover says it’s brilliant! Other than Invisible Children Organization’s (IC) shady finances and its founders’ dubious behaviors (one is a topic in cheaterville the other “acted in a bizarre manner in public”), they did a fantastic job shaking the web. Scam or not, you must say kudos to the men of IC that even Rihanna pledged that she’d help the cause. This is something that most humanitarian organizations should be aiming at. So with marketing and design eyes, this is how I think the Invisible Children made a ding in the web. 

1. Kony 2012 viral video is nothing short of spectacular! No doubt Jason Russell, director of Kony 2012 and co-founder of IC brought his experience from film and theatre in the development of the video. This is something NGOs need, talented people who’s main concern is just to make sensational masterpieces. Don’t think of saving the children for a while, think doing a spectacular job, when done you’ll end up saving them by the dozens. Just think of the masterpiece, 2 weeks, 104 million views? That’s more views than a woman flashing her boobs in public and a million more views than a goat farting in Youtube! 
logo invisible children
Nice huh? Even the organization's name sounds cool. Invisible Children, say it with me...

2. Design and branding. This is a very important point that most NGOs don’t pay attention to. We’re visual animals, Larry Pole understood this by the looks of IC’s materials. The branding and design component of any entity is important; this creates an image that people can associate to a cause. Let me put this in marketing terms, a strong brand identity translates to brand recall and a solid following. Can you imagine Swiss products not stamped with the white cross against a solid red background?
info graphics of IC profits
Infographics from Invisible Children's site. Nice graphics, lots of profits!

3. Advertising mind. This is just me, but analyzing Kony 2012 I came to the conclusion that this is a classic advertising case–look for a good problem and find, ahem, profitable solutions. In this case, the problem is a very bad man who needs to be put into justice. Solution: show the crimes of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army. Woosh! It almost sounds like a tag for a movie. Not to mention, portraying the war criminal in cinematic proportions. Catchy and Entertaining? Profitable? Clearly yes! Though this is where IC becomes shady. Apparently, only 32% of the funds went to direct services and we never got the Kony kit!
Invisible Children shooting in Africa
Shooting the film. Looks like they're having fun.

4. Bobby Bailey, social entrepreneur and founder of Invisible Children. Why do I get the feeling that he understands the dynamics of business and marketing? Here’s where I think most people get lost. Sure, we’re trying to alleviate suffering and make the world a better place. But we live in a monetary system and we need money to retain a staff, have an office, run an operation and keep a project going. We cannot denounce profits and in the same breath ask donors to give more funding. In my opinion, IC understood this. Just look at how IC made profits. They made millions and now they could do another film! I strongly believe that NGOs should make even a small profit to become sustainable themselves. We live in a monetary system.
Founders of IC
Oh look! Guns and goons! Aright, let's take a photo, looks cool.

5. Deadly combination. Bobby Bailey, social entrepreneur. Jason Russell, film and theatre director. Laren Poole, filmmaker, producer and creative media. To my eyes this looks like a typical creative team at an advertising agency. Putting their wits together on an issue resulted to something that made a ding in the web.
Ask yourself, since when was the last time any NGO made it this big? There’s a lesson to be learned here somewhere.
What do you think? 
DISCLAIMER: The content that you’re reading is my personal analysis of Invisible Children’s success with Kony 2012 in comparison to the performance of most NGO campaigns I’ve seen in the past. This is in no means a criticism to the humanitarian sector but my own opinion of the matter. I'm not here to say who's right and wrong or to say if Kony 2012 is a scam or not.

Copyright © Whitespacelover a.k.a. Pong Li since 2010 All Rights Reserved, unless stated otherwise. You may copy and/or use the content of this blog only if you acknowledge this blog and other parties (if there is any) as the source of the material.

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