Kony 2012: The biggest social media experiment in history ends in failure – so why is nobody talking about it?

Adam Ferrier NakedIf the Kony 2012 campaign had its way, the world would have woken up to cities covered in posters on Saturday. In this guest post, Adam Ferrier discusses why it didn’t happen.

Kony 2012 has made the world a sadder, more cynical place. Kony 2012 has harnessed the powers of social media and advertising, blended them with the worst of evangelical christianity, and duped the world.   

I’ve been pretty negative about the campaign since I first heard about it, here, here and here. Mumbrella has asked me to put a point of view forward as to why it this campaign failed – here it is.

kony 2012Kony 2012 is advertising at its worst. At its worst advertising can make the most ridiculous of products seem irresistible. This type of advertising was based about creating a desirable image around an unsubstantiated product. However, this type of advertising thankfully gets found out, now more than ever. Through social media and the wisdom of the crowds everything that’s based on image, and lacking in substance gets torn apart. However, things have worked slightly differently with Kony 2012, a massive failure, that the social media twit-faces (and much of the media) have ignored. Here’s why:

Advertising doesn’t work by providing facts and figures; presenting both sides of an argument, and hoping you make the right decision. Advertising (according to Dave Trott) is a master to two constructs:

  1. Desire; what can I say about my product that will make it irresistible. This could be a tangible thing (something about the product), or an intangible thing (something not about the product at all) – in fact to create desire you can say just about anything at all;
  2. Permission; what do I say about the product so someone gives themselves permission to act on the desire I’ve created. For example ‘Buy my creamy indulgent ice-cream (desire), it’s 97% fat free (permission)’.

The advertising tactics Kony2012 embraced were:

Desire: Koni2012 used every trick in the handbook of advertising 101 to build a strong emotional response. Guilt about inaction, close ups of children, big music ending in a crescendo, slow motion to build drama, sweaty, evil looking bad guys. It wasn’t story telling, it was manipulation.

Permission: He gave people the excuse to act via two clever techniques; scarcity; act now or miss out, social norming, this is the new world order, act now everyone else is. He’s also ensured other well known popular celebrities are involved, modeling the appropriate behaviour so others follow (like sheep). There were also some light touch statistics and funny diagrams thrown in to make the cause seem real and alive today.

The campaign created an emotional connection, and he provided a (thin) rational justification. He then coupled this with a simple action – buy an action kit, like the video, pass it on. He then asked everyone to post the posters they received in the mail up on a night of action to ‘cover the night’ in GetKony propaganda on April 20th. He ensured people felt motivated to act, and then he made it easy for them to do so – brilliant!

However, April 20 was meant to be the night of mass action where the world was covered in ‘GetKony’ messaging and it failed. People did not join in. Here’s why – before April 20 the crowd (us) found out the truth about the organisation. The truth was:

The organisation: is an evangelical fundamentalist christian movement. It recruits young people to spread its message. The organisation has been criticised for spending a lot of its revenue on making cool movies to promote its cause, ie It’s style over substance. It wasn’t obvious the organisation was so religiously orientated at first.

The Message: The original message was as we all know quickly found out to be full of holes and untruths. To the point where the president of Uganda created his own YouTube video to make many corrections.

The action: People were asked to ‘Get Kony’, a man who no longer lives in Uganda, and whose negative influence is currently minimal compared to many other challenges faced on the African continent. Further, it was never clear how buying an action kit, and showing your support by ‘covering the night’, was linked to getting Kony.

The Leader: Jason Russel always seemed more cult leader than saviour to me. More L. Ron Hubbard than Mother Teresa. His bizarre behaviour subsequently, and evangelical rants previously further deminished his credibility.

In short the cause was found out as being a sham, and people no longer wanted to associate themselves with it. However, the interesting thing to me was not the fact it bombed, but the reaction. There has been very little written about it, or discussed about it. Broadcast media and the social media people alike were very silent on the issue. This is amazing. The biggest social media experiment with 150 million participants ends in a massive failure and no ones talking about it (it didn’t trend on Twitter anywhere). Why?

Before people found out it was a hoax (of sorts) 150 million people acted towards this organisation and showed their support in front of family and friends on social media. Many of you publicly declared your support for Invisible Children and its cause. You took action, just by passing it on, liking it, or even worse, buying an action kit (and that’s why they were so cheap!)

Once you’ve acted they’ve succeeded. They’ve created a sense of cognitive dissonance that you must redress. If you passed the Get Kony message on you’re saying ‘I support this cause’, then you will have changed your (previously probably neutral) thoughts and feelings to agree with that action. Hence there were 150m people around with their thoughts feelings and actions all nicely aligned around supporting Invisible Children and Jason Russell.

However, as more information came to light about the organisation’s fictitious goals and their leader’s increasingly erratic behaviour (past and present) they couldn’t change their views. As the ‘night of action’ turned into a failure people didn’t feel comfortable declaring they were wrong, or they were duped. They had already acted towards the cause. To back out now will make them (you) look silly. That was the power of action – and Jason Russell knew this.

This is the reason why there is relative silence even though the biggest social media experiment ever failed. The silence can be explained by muted embarrassment from prior supporters, and quiet smugness from the detractors.

Kony2012 has proven, (and its just one of many causes that has and will continue to), you can create a fictitious cause, with a retarded goal and everyone will join in. However, social media will find you out, Big Brother is everywhere.

So would I have conceded, and changed my mind if the night of action had been a success? It wouldn’t have been.

  • Adam Ferrier is global head of behavioral science at Naked Communications


  1. Sam
    23 Apr 12
    11:22 am

  2. But it didn’t fail? The goal was to make Kony famous, to that end the campaign succeeded.

  3. Logic
    23 Apr 12
    11:27 am

  4. KONY sharing was more about the status (desire for status or pleasure) economy than legitimately trying to help a cause. it was a bunch of vain people desperately wanting to look good in front of peers … horribly concerned with what others think of them. Social Media should rename itself Status Media – as it’s rarely about the group and more often about how the individual wants to be perceived.

    That is why there’s such a lack of follow through. 99% of people who ‘shared’ that video wouldn’t be aware of all the surrounding info that came out after the fact … they have simply moved onto some other funny meme or piece of content that can reflect favourably on them this week.

  5. J
    23 Apr 12
    11:35 am

  6. Nice article. Needs a proper proof-read, though (“Koni2012” and “I.e. It’ style” for example…).

  7. LW
    23 Apr 12
    11:41 am

  8. Great article Adam – and nice crown of thorns on your pic – or is that horns…?

  9. Simon
    23 Apr 12
    11:46 am

  10. Great article Adam. Detailed and to the point, and summed up everything I felt when I heard about Kony2012 for the first time. Jason Russell was certainly no Bob Geldof or Bono.

    Just one thing: ‘a retarded goal’ – surely you could have found a better adjective than that?


  11. Marshy
    23 Apr 12
    11:47 am

  12. Great piece, articulated why I felt uncomfortable about the whole thing.

  13. Jimmy
    23 Apr 12
    11:47 am

  14. I think the world is a more sceptical place since KONY 2012.

  15. Matt
    23 Apr 12
    11:51 am

  16. I didn’t take part in cover the night because I was at home playing video games…. less QQ, more pewpew!

  17. Anon
    23 Apr 12
    12:03 pm

  18. A small point but I’m not sure even Mother Teresa lived up to being “Mother Teresa”.

    Refer Christopher Hitchens book: “The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice.”

    Some good points otherwise buried in some rather dense writing (from Ferrier, not Hitchens)

  19. Richard
    23 Apr 12
    12:04 pm

  20. They left it too long. The should have launched the video and executed the protest in the space of 24hrs.

  21. Bruce Wilson
    23 Apr 12
    12:11 pm

  22. Some Ugandans seem less than impressed by Invisible Children’s efforts.

    Last Friday the 13th, April 2012, during an official Invisible Children-organized screening of KONY 2012 part 2 in the Northern Ugandan city of Gulu, the audience became so enraged by the video that they started to pelt the screen, and IC organizers, with rocks.

    Ugandan police, in turn shot tear gas at the crowd and fired their rifles into the air, causing panic. One death and several injuries were reported.


    It was the second riot, or near-riot, that Invisible Children’s videos have provoked in Uganda.

    From the linked Uganda Monitor story:

    “Ms Margaret Aciro, whose picture appears in the Kony 2012 video showing her lips, nose and ears mutilated, has criticised the documentary, saying it is aimed at making money using victims of the northern insurgency.

    Ms Aciro, 35, abducted by rebels of the LRA in 2003 from Paicho Sub-county in Gulu Municipality, was among thousands of people who flocked Pece War Memorial Stadium on Friday to watch the filming of Kony 2012 by Invisible Children.

    “I watched the Kony 2012 video but I decided to return home before the second one (Kony 2012 Par II) because I was dissatisfied with its content. I became sad when I saw my photo in the video. I knew they were using it to profit.”

    The Catholic Archbishop of Gulu and member of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, Rt. Rev John Baptist Odama, whose daughter committed suicide as a result of her treatment while kidnapped by Kony’s LRA, also had harsh words for the Invisible Children video screening:

    “This is catastrophic, it’s causing chaos. It is igniting more, actually, a situation of starting afresh the war. But now it is against the population. This film could have been prepared with a consultation. For example, the stakeholders could be consulted – “We would like to project a film like this, what do you think?” People should have been asked before, instead of having the film shown now.”

  23. Hank
    23 Apr 12
    12:14 pm

  24. It’s TONY2013 that I’m worried about.

  25. Shed a tear....
    23 Apr 12
    12:15 pm

  26. Sure they are nut head fundamentalists, cloaked about where the cash comes from, anti gay marriage, pro naked rampage and maybe Kony has taken his act on the road out of Uganda – but he is still a scumbag that needs to go to jail.

    The failure of the campaign came from transparency – not enough at some points, way too much at others and no plan “B” for if the wheels came off.

    I am definitely a little sadder that it hasn’t worked – but I also haven’t given up hope that there may be a 3rd act to all this.

  27. Tbone
    23 Apr 12
    12:20 pm

  28. It’s far from over yet.

    If #KonyGetsKaptured or #KonyGetsKilled, everyone will be back on the band wagon again, complete with ready made banners, slogans and memes. Might take a few months or years, but its bound to happen.

    And then all the Kony clicktivists can once again chillax, safe in the knowledge that their tweets, once again saved the day.

  29. pierson grace
    23 Apr 12
    12:24 pm

  30. Despite all the controversy i think it did a great job getting people and communities together and it also brought most of the people to realize what is going on and made most of them want to help i don’t care what is a lie what isn’t this world can not change if we don’t start somewhere and even if we fail at least we can say we tried. We can all do something to help the world even in our own country

  31. Tim Nicholas
    23 Apr 12
    12:31 pm

  32. I’ve heard Adam speak and he’s one the most entertaining and informative people you’ll ever hear. Pity his written words pale in comparison. Grammar and punctuation are so important to effective communication and I’d expect a pretty high standard from this senior marketing professional. That said, he makes some good ‘technical’ marketing points regarding the failure of this campaign. Based purely on global awareness though, it has to be deemed a success.

  33. Wayne
    23 Apr 12
    12:36 pm

  34. Isn’t it just a case of the product not living up to it’s message. Correct me if I’m wrong but most advertisers find themselves in exactly the same situation [insert Qantas brand here].

    I got involved because I was interested in the brilliance of the communications strategy, not the product, and for that, I can appreciate great work. Seems to me like ‘the agency’ in this case, did superb work. It’s the client that is a monumental cock-up.

    Cheers to all the brains behind the comms work..

  35. No Clothes
    23 Apr 12
    12:38 pm

  36. @ Adam Ferrier

    You truly are deluded. Let’s not forget that you were the creator of one of the worst, most embarrassing and poorly executed hoaxes in Australian advertising – the Witchery lost jacket HOAX disaster! [Edited by Mumbrella].


  37. Meg
    23 Apr 12
    12:39 pm

  38. having the face of the campaign arrested shortly after didn’t do it any favours.

  39. Exitus Acta Probat
    23 Apr 12
    12:47 pm

  40. Despite all the vitriol people have felt towards this campaign, ultimately wouldn’t it be great if Kony did get caught and children did stop dying/being tortured/raped/forced into fighting?

    At least someone (even if they are Christian-nuts) is trying to do something about it.

  41. Chris
    23 Apr 12
    12:59 pm

  42. Does anyone else think it strange that you would hold an International Day of Action on 4/20 i.e. the International Day of Inaction?

  43. Doug
    23 Apr 12
    1:08 pm

  44. It took me about 2 minutes of that emotional postcard called the Kony Video to realise that it had deep evangelical undertones, that it was a shameless and highly flawed grab at trying to unite people around an obviously disturbing cause and that Jason Russell had “deep seated denial issues and delusions of grandeur”. What disturbs me is that all this money raised and the solution they put forward about hiring mercenaries to bring Kony to justice was just utterly absurd and ridiculous. not to mention utterly illegal. Why this cause and why so late in the game? This kind of Shameless self promotion that resulted in Jason Russell having a very public and psychotic breakdown..which was sad…but you know “be careful of what you wish for”
    Why did it fail? It was an utterly flawed concept that was lead by an egomaniac who was about to snap. Why isn’t anybody talking about the failure? Maybe its something to do with the shame of hope being mixed with the feeling of being conned. I mean Mugabe is a real and utter asshole, why not go after him? Simply because it achieved a level of global awareness, doesn’t make it a success, I’d say it trivialised the real and lasting trauma of Kony’s victims and this was evident when the film was screened to these victims. “we are shaping human history”…gimme a break.

    I think Mr Booker explains it well:


  45. martin kelly
    23 Apr 12
    1:17 pm

  46. Couple of things: 1. story doesn’t explain what Kony 2012 actually is and 2. I’ve seen I’ve seen two or three (homemade) posters in disparate parts of Sydney over the past couple of days that got me wondering what it was about. My conclusion – the campaign was effective in raising my awareness of something I still know nothing about. On that basis, it was ineffective, and so was Adam’s story.

  47. Rob R
    23 Apr 12
    1:38 pm

  48. Richard said “They left it too long. The should have launched the video and executed the protest in the space of 24hrs.” Fairly sure they would have done that had they known it was going to be so massive, so quickly…. I’m sure they gave it the lead time because they underestimated its capacity to spread so quickly. To be fair, most take much, much longer….

  49. Rob R
    23 Apr 12
    1:38 pm

  50. PS They also needed the time to send out the stickers & posters…

  51. Cassie
    23 Apr 12
    1:40 pm

  52. Some valid points made in this article and I believe they all contributed to the ‘fizzling out’ of the campaign. However, instead of looking at this campaign from an advertising perspective it would be beneficial to look at it from a social marketing perspective in that it encouraged people to make behavioural changes (to ‘cover the night’ in posters) for what it portrayed as the social good (GetKony).

    Looking at it from this perspective, perhaps the most fundamental reason people didn’t act was the simple fact that there was about a month between most people seeing the video and the event.

    The trigger (the video) which was the catalyst for change was a ‘hot trigger’. By that I mean that it encouraged short term behaviour change which required immediate action. This is supported by the viral success of the story in that the trigger encouraged people to take immediate action by sharing the video or liking the video etc. However, as the ‘cover the night’ event was to be held over a month after seeing the video and the trigger or call to action could not sustain long term behaviour change to ‘GetKony’ the event flopped.

  53. Barkeep
    23 Apr 12
    1:47 pm

  54. ” His bizarre behaviour subsequently, and evangelical rants previously further deminished his credibility.”

    Datracts from the message. Back to spelling skool.

  55. charles bayer
    23 Apr 12
    1:48 pm

  56. Well it certainly wasn’t a flop in Rye on the Mornington Peninsula…and I’ve got the picx to prove it. The posters were everywhere in the shopping centre, local supermarket and strategic locations such as bus stops, post boxes etc. I’m working on a blog post which will be live at http://www.bayer12.blogspot.com in a couple of days — check it out then, cheers Charles.

  57. Sullos
    23 Apr 12
    2:00 pm

  58. The posters where everywhere in Cronulla too. Though much like most of the media our town gets it followed suite by making very little sense if you live outside the realm of Social Media

  59. Me
    23 Apr 12
    2:09 pm

  60. Because it’s not worth talking about…

    I think you answered your own question.

  61. Blue
    23 Apr 12
    2:24 pm

  62. I always wondered why we would be putting Kony posters up in Sydney, unless we were trying to find Kony sipping a latte in Woolloomooloo?

    My own favourite bit was the “oooh war is bad. Always bad.” followed by “yayyy! They’re sending soldiers into Uganda! War is bad unless we agree with the reasons for it”

    Link above is very good – http://youtu.be/hF8J99KbrZo?t=2m30s did any one else think that Jason Russell is incredibly camp for a married man?

  63. Non Creative
    23 Apr 12
    2:33 pm

  64. So tell me Adam, your campaign for Arthouse Hotels to sell more rooms, how did that end up going for you . . . pot kettle black?

  65. Shanghai
    23 Apr 12
    2:37 pm

  66. Twitter is one of those irregular verbs isn’t it?

    I tweet. I twit. I twat.

  67. Damon
    23 Apr 12
    2:38 pm

  68. I think we can criticise the organisation and the approach without dismissing the original cause. We don’t want the outcome of all of this to be be letting the LRA off the hook – http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/0.....s-escalate

  69. Rob
    23 Apr 12
    3:24 pm

  70. It amazes me how so many articles crop up criticising worldwide recognised campaigns and list reasons why they are ‘unsuccessful.’ I’ve never seen the video, and yet I know near enough the entire contents because EVERYONE has been talking about it.

    It is a bit anticlimatic to see 1 or 2 posters here and there, but the video set the bar so high, anything that follows is probably going to fall short.

    When you come up with a campaign that gets how ever many million views in a matter of days – I’ll listen to your criticism.

  71. beezlebub
    23 Apr 12
    3:35 pm

  72. In the space of 3 days Joseph Kony went from virtual anonymity to global infamy.

    No creative agency, media planner/buyer or media proprietor made any money out of it.

    It’s therefore unsurprising that ‘traditional’ ad agencies like Naked would feel threatened by this development and thus feel the need to denigrate it as a failure.

    When in reality it’s probably the most successful comms execution the world has ever seen.

  73. Seahorse
    23 Apr 12
    3:40 pm

  74. Agree mostly, but I DID see two Kony posters around Sydney on my bus ride today – not the blanket they were hoping for, of course, but there was SOME blind followers.

  75. Jew Barrymore
    23 Apr 12
    3:43 pm

  76. The video helped me weed out all the dumbasses on my friend’s list 😉

  77. Lillewarg
    23 Apr 12
    4:31 pm

  78. In my opinion, one major fact on human behavior is forgotten (at least left out) in the article, and especially when it comes to actions that take place on social media platforms – the effect of (digital) participation. One thing is to engage oneself for a cause online, another is to follow up/follow through in reality. It doesn’t matter what cause, this kind of behavior is still the same. I don’t think the masses choose not to take part because of being enlighted of the campaigns “true” goals – they thought they already done enough by sharing the content over and over again.

  79. Leon
    23 Apr 12
    4:32 pm

  80. “It wasn’t story telling, it was manipulation.”

    I can’t think of a single example of any advertising that isn’t manipulation.

  81. Classify Failure
    23 Apr 12
    4:50 pm

  82. I went for a surf today and in the carp ark, by the beach were Kony posters, I counted 5 of them. I have never seen any form of advertising in the car park before. )In fact, once I did, which was a plea to track down a lost wetsuit…)

    Kony was there, in the car park of a local Aussie beach for all to see. Is that a failure?

  83. Dazza
    23 Apr 12
    5:04 pm

  84. Kony2012 is about as popular as planking, but more dangerous.

  85. Neil Stollznow
    23 Apr 12
    5:09 pm

  86. And the difference between Kony 2012 and every Michael Moore film is…… oh, he doesn’t ask you to buy a kit, just a ticket for the film. Is that better or worse?

  87. CF
    23 Apr 12
    5:47 pm

  88. @Neil Stollznow

    If the kit enables invisible children to make enough margin that they have spare cash to invest in good stuff in Uganda – then what an amazing success story…

  89. zumabeach
    23 Apr 12
    6:42 pm

  90. Most social media users have the attention span of newts … they’ve moved on to the next big thing or is that the next next big thing by now?

  91. dude
    23 Apr 12
    6:50 pm

  92. This article is at best harsh if not wrong. Objective was worldwide awareness to invoke action. It succeeded more than any other campaign in history by a factor of 100. It’s creative premise, “Make Kony Famous” is pure creative genious. The poster aspect had lofty goals and was probably more successful than we realise but small compared to the success of the video. It’s also not even relevant as he was already famous. Most agencies on the planet would have been exstatic to come up with the idea, to achieve the awareness and would have been submitting it to all award shows knowing with 100% certainty it would win. The side issues regarding the organisation, the post above about not consulting relevant parties, the directors breakdown are seperate to the advertising campaign and highlighted because the campaign was so successful. Also, its hard to tell what is rumour and what is real as the knockers are much louder than the supporters. If a campaign aimed at bringing a killer to justice with the biggest social spread in history gets bagged…….?

  93. Ok then
    23 Apr 12
    7:42 pm

  94. Er thanks for telling us what we know.

  95. Random Earthling
    23 Apr 12
    10:17 pm

  96. Can you put Kony on a Coke bottle please?

  97. Thomas W.
    23 Apr 12
    11:50 pm

  98. The people “doing something” about it are war-mongering. I’ve heard from my friends in Uganda and they were terrified that this whole movement was going to reignite conflict and kill even more children. In their words: “with friends like Kony2012, who needs enemies?”

  99. Jesus H Christ
    23 Apr 12
    11:58 pm

  100. Kony 2012 did work.

    A bunch of stupid people gave money to some jackass for an imaginary cause.

    The after effects and the call to action were there simply to feed the illusion that people who click “like” _actually_ care.

  101. Anne Miles
    24 Apr 12
    6:23 am

  102. Can’t believe people are focused on spelling and grammar rather than the larger point.

    In the end advertising is only successful if it sells what we’re supposed to be selling.
    The question is whether Kony2012 was selling what we think it was.

  103. Joe
    24 Apr 12
    6:34 am

  104. Analysis paralysis methinks

  105. JayZ
    24 Apr 12
    10:33 am

  106. It reinforces two important and enduring facts:

    1. people generally behave like sheep until some one cries “The King has no clothes” and
    2. a fool and his money are easily parted.

    Plus ca change, mes amis.

  107. Benjamin
    24 Apr 12
    11:20 am

  108. I refused to watch the video as I thought it was stupid anyway…and I was right.

    People did participate in the poster thing, I had someone try to guilt me over facebook into doing it. I was out in Melbourne that night and there were some people. I saw maybe 20 posters put up as well as graffiti, I tore the posters down however 😀

  109. charles bayer
    24 Apr 12
    12:08 pm

  110. If Geldorf or Bono had fronted the campaign, would the mainstream media have taken more notice? Mmmmmmm, Charles.

  111. Adam Ferrier
    24 Apr 12
    2:09 pm

  112. Hi people thanks for joining the conversation. Yes I was away from school the week they taught spelling and grammar. If you think it detracts from the thinking then we don’t share the same priorities.

    To the rest of you I’m glad we’ve flushed out a conversation about an event that is genuinely worthy of analysis. Any more opinions greatly welcomed.

  113. Kate Richardson
    24 Apr 12
    3:04 pm

  114. Ha! Love Hank’s TONY13 comment.

  115. Chris Muir
    24 Apr 12
    4:29 pm

  116. The truth-be-told, Kony lives at the lesser end of Africa’s bad-guy problems. In a country that has always enjoyed the unenviable reputation of harbouring a disproportionate number of the world’s worst despots, Kony is really only small fish. The zenith of bastardry has been achieved by men like Omar al-Bashir in Sudan, Isaias Afwerki in Eritrea, Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia, the late Muammar Al-Qaddafi in Libya, Idriss Deby in Chad, Yusuf Mohamed Siad in Somalia, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in Equatorial Guinea, the ousted Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Yahya Jammeh in Gambia, Blaise Compaore in Burkina Faso, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Charles Taylor in Liberia and Paul Biya in Cameroon; the list goes on…and so does the killing….so while all you people are busy sprouting marketing speak and checking for punctuation, more and more people are being killed.
    Ignore all the clap-trap and beat up stories by competing ‘do-gooder’ groups, Kony 2012 (for all its faults) has put a much, much bigger problem on the global agenda…and that’s a good thing.

  117. Ksenija
    24 Apr 12
    4:44 pm

  118. The ONLY reason this campaign ‘failed’ (as you put is) is due to the fact that main stream media decided to crucify it rather than support it. And unfortunatley, today’s peope do not think for themselves, but choose to listen to everthing the media tells them, who we know are liars and thieves.

    This was a noble project to bring awareness to an issue the western world couldn’t give a fuck about. It’s so easy to sit in our comfy chairs and comfy homes and criticize those that take the time to try and help others.

    For those of you who think that KONY2012 was failure, take another look. It has opened our eyes to the mutilation, raping, and burning of children alive that takes place. Do you think this sort of treatment of innocent children is acceptable or don’t you give a shit as long as it’s not happening to your child.

    For those of you who have not seen Machine Gun Preacher, I suggest you take the time to watch this video. The movie is based on a man called Sam Childers and his fight to save children from Jospeh Kony and the LRA. This is a real life warrior and hero who could not accept seeing these atrocities and not do something about them.

    How many of you will be getting off your fat arses to fight for innocent children who cannot fight for themselves. My guess is ZERO … typical.

    Matt Ferrier, you will NEVER gain the same amount of publicity or awareness for any of your projects. It must kill you to know that you will never reach the same amount of people that Invisible Children have with their KONY2012 camapign.

  119. gammaifn
    24 Apr 12
    7:01 pm

  120. @ Ksenija actually the people who thought for themselves are the one who will not support this stunt. These people would have already known about the treatment of those children – they may not know about the details, but they know it exists, they will know that it exists in Africa, where the colonial rules and tribal cultures left the complicated interaction of warlords and regional politics, where power openly marries corruption, where the root of problem is not one Kony, or thousands of Kony, but lies in poverty, destruction of social structure and infrastructure, international power play, availability of vast resources to fund warlords, the traumatic history from Western colonial rule (and the power play brought by the colonial powers to strengthen their rule in the colonial times) and so much more.

    I have never supported Kony 2012 just as I have always been against inhuman treatment of children. I don’t need an Evangelical Christian group to spend hundreds and thousands of donation money (which could have gone to other more constructive causes e.g. HIV eradication – after all HIV has already killed thousands times more children than Kony) to make a feel-good video.

    One may actually argue that it is good that Kony 2012 has failed because it has demonstrated rational thinking finally triumph over mob mentality, that the governments were not forced to response in a vote-buying but ultimately poorly timed and ill constructed campaign – imagine the horror if the US actually ended up sending troops and money to strengthen Ugandan military strength to hunt for a Kony who is not even there, and because of this causing disruption to the currently stable yet delicate environment third Congo war broke out.

  121. Doug
    25 Apr 12
    12:05 am

  122. @Ksenija your comments are simply laughable. Shouldn’t this comment be directed towards Jason Russell “you will NEVER gain the same amount of publicity or awareness for any of your projects”.

  123. Scooter
    25 Apr 12
    5:34 pm

  124. Hoax and sham? Boy, nailed it there, didn’t you, hater.
    Get a grip: you and the other jealous nay-sayers did your best to squash this initiative. Yet it succeeded in its immediate goal nonetheless. This institution was set up to get Kony to justice. Nothing more. It has been at it for years, using the film-making and story-telling talents of its founders.

    It was advocacy, not simply advertising. Your analysis is trite and does not do justice to it. Adam, I recommend you spend some time at the sharp end of political lobbying and social movements. Until then, your corporate clients might better use your analytical skills selling soap and sunshine.

    There is no wonder that towns were not plastered with posters on April 20: the video was clearly not expected to be so popular, particularly internationally, and the kits were quickly sold out. Invisible Children had logistics problems. So they are not the world’s best organisers. Rip into them for that, why don’t you.

    When the original video went viral people naturally asked who is this group, is the video true, etc. From my assessment the group had nothing to hide and nor is it a front for something evil. It was set up to lobby for publicity and change. Some people prefer their charities to deliver aid in the field. Invisible Children tries to do both, but clearly its skills and methods best suit public awareness.

    Like most advertising, the video simplified the messages and didn’t provide full context. People got the mistaken impression that Kony was still based in Uganda where he began, and where the charity Invisible Children is mostly active. No biggie: the focus was on making him famous, leading to his capture and trial, not to pinpoint his location. Sure, plenty of competing charities got their hackles up. Professionals like you, Adam, whose personal reputations rest on making clients famous were suddenly feeling threatened by the success of these upstarts. They need to get over their egos and learn from the campaign, not simply knocking it and dancing on its grave.

    Let’s not forget that Kony was long ago declared the most-wanted criminal by the UN International Criminal Court, which is backed by 120+ States including Australia. He is still at large and still wanted.

    Stage 2 is yet to come and I hope that the Kony campaign, its supporters and all other sensible people will continue to support the campaign to bringing that perpetrator of evil to justice.

  125. Andrew Coey
    25 Apr 12
    8:54 pm

  126. We’ve all failed.

  127. Ice Cream Cone
    25 Apr 12
    9:42 pm

  128. Another example of old media citing hatred for the new lot: http://manly-daily.whereilive......eyond-net/

  129. Richard Moss
    26 Apr 12
    12:48 pm

  130. I love this. I love it I love it I love it. Buy my Ice cream, it’s 97% fat free; which means, it’s 3% Fat.

    There is “low fat” ice cream, there is even a “no fat” ice cream. (show it, it looks like grey lard)

    Buy my ice cream, (show it, it looks like a glistening snow white orgasm) it’s real ice cream, for those who know how to indulge without over indulging.

    Buy My Ice Cream, because you know how to indulge. They gave themselves permission.

  131. pierson grace
    26 Apr 12
    1:18 pm

  132. Ksenija woooooooooo its true none of these ppl will get off there butts and do anything they care more about spelling then abductions and genocide and peace.

  133. Anonymous
    26 Apr 12
    3:27 pm

  134. What I find most depressing about this article is that Kony2012 is called advertising.

  135. charles bayer
    26 Apr 12
    5:52 pm

  136. You can read my take on this article now at: http://www.bayer12.blogspot.com
    cheers Charles Bayer.

  137. Mark
    26 Apr 12
    6:07 pm

  138. Here’s an interesting take on it; http://blog.randem.com.au/Mark.....l-Media/26

  139. Julie
    27 Apr 12
    12:46 am

  140. Regardless of how it was advertised, or wether people joined in to Cover the Night, or even though the Invisible Children guy got caught jacking off in public, THERE ARE STILL THOUSANDS OF CHILD SOLDIERS BEING TAKEN FROM THEIR FAMILIES AND FORCED TO KILL OFF OTHER PEOPLE AND TOWNS EVERY DAY. So it doesn’t matter how this issue was presented, or where most of the money went, or anything, what matters is the base fact of what the guy is presenting IS REAL. This isn’t something he made up or suddenly brought forward to the public, this is a real issue that has been around for years and he’s trying to stop that. What if it were our children? Would you expect Africa to stop helping us save our children just because they felt the advertising wasn’t adequate? Unless you’ve been living under a rock you should have known about this issue long before the videos were put up. And if you didn’t, the point is that now you do know, and you have a choice to care about our fellow human beings over in Africa or you can take some bullshit small thing and make it your reason to justify how selfish you are.

  141. Andrew C
    27 Apr 12
    10:23 am

  142. Good on ya Julie.

  143. anon1
    27 Apr 12
    12:57 pm

  144. “More L. Ron Hubbard than Mother Teresa.”

    Is that worse? Frankly it’s hard to pick between the two evil phonies.

    Holding up Mother Teresa as some mythical figure of goodness is just perpetuating the same kind of religiously-pushed deception that you criticise in your article. It is widely established that she was a zealous hypocrite who did nothing to relieve suffering or improve lives, despite the millions (billions?) of dollars funnelled to her organisation over the decades. Her influence and her myth is arguably one of the most damaging, evil phenomena of the 20th century, and certainly more widespread than the calculating evil of L Ron Hubbard.

  145. Dave The Happy Singer
    27 Apr 12
    4:30 pm

  146. Mother Teresa was no less wicked than LRon. Otherwise great article.

  147. richie
    27 Apr 12
    6:16 pm

  148. Adam

    I’m struggling to work out how you can deem a promotional video that has clocked up over 88million views on YouTube to be a failure?

    What would have equated to success for you for this campaign?

  149. Dave
    28 Apr 12
    12:00 am

  150. @ Ksenija
    I can’t honestly believe you could say that its opening our eye’s
    do you really think that we all already didn’t know this was happening.
    It doesn’t matter who the leader is as there’s always going to be someone
    new to take his place. (even though Kony is somewhat of a non issue anymore as it
    currently stands)
    What needs to happen is for the country to do something about it.
    They let it happen to begin with.
    We have no right/need to go in there guns blasting to make them do anything!
    Help if required but lets not for a second think us millions at home can click a button
    and do something.

  151. Ash Nallawalla
    28 Apr 12
    8:22 pm

  152. Isn’t it intertesting that so many people wasted so many electrons talking about this stunt.

  153. Steph
    30 Apr 12
    2:51 pm

  154. I am confused by this comment ‘you can create a fictitious cause, with a retarded goal’. Was there or was their not crimes against humanity (children specifically) committed by a man with the surname Kony in Uganda? I believe their was and to that end think naming this cause fictitious and the goal retarded has any truth.

    In terms of the success of the campaign I do believe awareness rose but would like to hear more about how that ended in reduction of the problem (i.e. less crimes against humanity). From memory, after awareness rose the US govt did invest more resources in attempting to help?

  155. Mosaic
    30 Apr 12
    9:17 pm

  156. If KONY2012 was a complete failure, why are you speaking and writing about KONY?

  157. Clare
    1 May 12
    5:06 pm

  158. “social media twit-faces” – best description I’ve heard in a long time!

  159. jen
    2 May 12
    6:39 pm

  160. Sadly the author of this article has a credibility problem. He was behind the deceptive campaign “Save FBI” with the lies about an aussie girl swimming to Richard Bransons island. Talk about making the world sadder and more cynical. It was all there. And don’t start me on the Withery.

  161. Ellie
    3 May 12
    10:24 pm

  162. Why do you think Invisible Children is an evangelical Christian organisation? You say “It wasn’t obvious the organisation was so religiously orientated at first.” – what do you mean by “at first”? Where is your evidence that a) it is in fact an evangelical Christian organisation, and b) that this is a hindrance?

    Did you look at these obvious sites when researching who Invisible Children are: http://www.invisiblechildren.c.....#religious

    Finally – use a spell checker if you want to paint yourself as a serious, knowledgeable blogger.

  163. Clownfish
    5 May 12
    11:40 pm

  164. There are a number of problems with this article, the most obvious being the premise that the campaign was a failure. Was it? Its stated intention was to raise awareness of Kony, and it achieved that, in spades. In fact, I would argue that it was a victim of its own success – the online campaign was so spectacularly successful that the ‘Cover the night’ part of it couldn’t help but pale in comparison.

    And on that score, I’ve seen many of the posters around even tiny towns in Tasmania.

    Then there are what appear to be, at best, half-truths, which appear to be little more than recycled conventional wisdom being passed of as the author’s own conclusions.

    For instance, Invisible Children is an ‘evangelical fundamentalist christian movement’ – is it? Yes, Jason Russell is an evangelical christian, and the charity has received donations from another fundamentalist organisation, but the author has failed to show that Invisible Children itself is what he says, or indeed why that is a problem. Apart from, yknow, Christians are bad, mmmkay?

    ‘organisation has been criticised for spending a lot of its revenue on making cool movies to promote its cause’

    A somewhat odd criticism, when that is pretty much what the organisation was *for*. It’s a bit like criticising medicins sans frontieres for spending a lot of its revenue providing medical treatment for people in the developing world.

    All in all, the article reeks of (poorly written) sour grapes from someone with what appears to be a slightly risible superiority complex (I mean, seriously – ‘global head of behavioral science’?)

  165. Adam Ferrier
    6 May 12
    5:19 pm

  166. This campaign captured 150 million hearts with a slick video. It asked these people to act. These people quickly realized IC was a different kind of organization than they thought. They didn’t join in the action. They shrugged in muted embarrassment. The whole sad ordeal makes it harder for the next person to do something good.

    Again thanks for participating in the conversation. It’s extremely interesting and deserves attention and dissection.

  167. Rajeev
    8 May 12
    2:42 pm

  168. Invisible Children definitely make slick videos, that’s been their main thing for the last 9 years. They started out as doco makers.

    They never pretended to be an AID organisation, so why would people expect all their money to go overseas.

    Oprah had them on her show twice before #kony2012 – does that means she was embarrassed as well?

    They asked people to act, to “Cover the Night” in order to get Kony on the radar of US policy makers (not Australian policy makers)… and there’s now this:


    Also this: http://articles.cnn.com/2012-0.....=PM:AFRICA

    All after kony2012 video was launched… I wouldn’t say that makes it harder for the next person to do something good

  169. Doug
    8 May 12
    2:57 pm

  170. Rajeev…but are they doing anything good? Did they trivialise a serious subject only to have it dropped as a hot topic? They don’t make slick video’s their video’s really do suck. The whole thing just stinks.

  171. Rajeev
    8 May 12
    4:07 pm

  172. Doug, doing anything good? Not sure what you mean by good here… spending 5 minutes on their website breaks down how their doing “good”. Looks like they’re an awareness and advocacy group – if you’ve watched any films like blood diamond or machine gun preacher, that will give you a tiny insight about the good they’re doing.

    Their main target audience is school and uni students, not the advertising industry. So I don’t think they’re worried that you think it sucks.

    If everything stinks, I don’t think I can help you with that amount of distrust. You’d probably have to meet the founders yourself and get it from the horses mouth – not sure that would help your cynicism either way.

  173. Doug
    11 May 12
    1:05 am

  174. Rajeev…this is what the rationale world thinks of Kony 2012

  175. Mr Concious
    11 May 12
    9:21 am

  176. This is a fact:
    A global generation of young folk are aware of the horrible problems in Central Africa.

    These young folk are aware of the International Criminal Court’s most wanted list.

    Many of these future decision makers care and are conscious of issues that affect societies outside of their own.

    The Kony campaign was not about selling 100,000 cheeseburgers in 2 weeks. It was about awareness and it worked very well indeed. So many Ad Execs with their head up their a4ses putting down this campaign, or should I say “movement”.

    I don’t see posters jotted around for a burger, or the latest plasma, nor for a can of VB. Whether you wish to acknowledge it or not, the campaign was overwhelmingly successful.

    Joseph Kony is famous. That was the aim guys…and the knock on affect will take time, however over the long term we will see change.

  177. Doug
    12 May 12
    12:14 pm

  178. I love how anybody who has an opinion that goes against the grain, gets called cynical, a hater etc etc..What Kony was doing was advocating for some kind of naive military intervention..hiring Mercs to go in and do the job. You know just ring up the same guys who made a killing in Iraq as guns for hire..”do you mind popping over to Africa and nabbing this Kony guy so everybody in the west who purchased a Kony pack feels validated”. Just a slight conflict of interest.

    Check out what life is really like on the frontline: http://www.theage.com.au/world.....1xi7v.html

    “But the officials do not really know where Kony is, and some rank-and-file soldiers suspect he may be as far away as the Sudanese region of Darfur.”

    Darfur and Kony? I can sense the Invisible Children dance ensemble warming up already.

  179. Doug
    12 May 12
    12:16 pm

  180. sorry I meant “What Kony 2012 was doing”

  181. Andrew
    12 May 12
    5:31 pm

  182. 7,803 – the number of words written here so far.

    91 comments and counting here on Mumbrella’s most popular discussion, a discussion regarding KONY2012 – ahead of articles about Optus, SATC, Facebook, Blackberry, LAFHA … and probably heading for the Mumbrella all time Top 10.

    Seriously, you’re going to persist with the town crier shriek of “KONY2012 is a failed campaign” ?? And say it’s an unethical outfit/cause to boot?

    It doesn’t seem like a failure to everyone else in the world guys so it might be best to desist with it, as one will only make one’s self look like a tit more and more, to the point that an insane streak along the side of a highway naked would probably come out better in the long-term wash.

    Surely it would be better to say “KONY2012, great campaign, great success in awareness, fair enough cause, not a bad bunch of young up-starts, but what an eye-opener as to our gullibility as a social media collective consciousness … here’s what we can learn from this one-hit wonder, what we need to do and why etc etc…” Much more interesting and believable a rant I would have thought.

    Further, I think “Invisible Children duped the world” is a bit strong, maybe “semi-duped” perhaps.

    Anyway what’s wrong with a touch of dupety-doo in order to get something going viral? As for myself when I find out a great campaign tricked me and was actually trying to get me to buy a certain brand’s products, I don’t really care. In fact I applaud.

    I’m not religious per se and if I was religious then the super-duping christianity would be one of my last choices. However so the feck what if Invisible Children are christian, evangelical or whatever!

    I don’t donate a cent to the Salvation Army and I won’t be donning a short-sleeve shirt with tie and joining one of their smelly de-tuned brass bands any time soon, but I CANNOT deny or slag off in a public forum how they turn up like saviours in the middle of the night, grab a drugged out single mother and her child and take them in.

    I couldn’t give a rat’s fanny if the Salvos called themselves the Almighty Christian Soldiers, that kind of generative behaviour is a brilliant and admirable thing to do.

    So I don’t view the critics or detractors of Invisible Children as bad or in the wrong or anything undesirable, but here’s where it gets interesting in so far as explaining why some people are going so hammer-and-tongs against it KONY2012 with such poopy-pantsia…

    The Ad industry can be likened to being similar to a religion or behaviour/belief-based institution of membership. Fact.

    Given the way in-group vs out-group behaviour and bias works in group psychology it’s logical to predict that the closer one is to the viral marketing side of the Ad industry, the more anxious (followed by ambivalent, thence irritated) one would become about the KONY2012 influence.

    Invisible Children invaded the AdMan temple, and what’s more they came, they saw, and they kicked everyone’s tuchas. Hey it annoys me as much as anyone but it’s the truth.

    And it’s also true that their cause is morally superior to that of the majority of the Ad industry. (I would expect to see an increase in anxiety/ambivalence/annoyance on this moral point proportional to age when cross-factored with emotional immaturity.)

    It hurts somewhere deep down that no matter what one does, one will likely never be able to topple the feat achieved by KONY2012. That’s the most annoying thing for you guys let’s be frank.

    It’s the fact that you’ve been rendered second-best at your own craft by a bunch of so-and-so’s exploits, and it shows by how strongly you’re venting at things like their semi-dodgy-ness and by your not being soft and gooey enough to openly pay fair dues to at least some of Invisible Children’s more noble feats.

    It’s not possible to consider yourself special in that most-special-of-special ways in the area of public influence and viral marketing for the rest of your days, as you were super dupety out-duped by the best semi-dupers in history.

    And that hurts. Hey it certainly hurts me.

  183. An arrest
    14 May 12
    8:29 am

  184. richie
    14 May 12
    7:22 pm

  185. Come now Adam – intentionally inflammatory posts aside – your argument is flawed.

    When you set out to do something like this you set the bar high. You make elaborate calls, hugely exaggerated declarations and fantastical claims about what you are going to achieve.

    You shoot for the stars because thats what people want to hear.

    Was the ‘World fed’ in ’85? Did Bob and Bono ‘Make Poverty History’ in 08? Did they bollocks.

    Of course IC didn’t achieve everything they said they would – did you really expect them to? Does that make it a failure? Of course not.

    Is a silver medalist a failure?

    I didn’t put my name on can of coke

    etc etc

    Stop pissing on the campfire for the sake of it and maybe give at least some recognition for what has been achieved here.

    ps – agreed, some good discussion on this still.

  186. Doug
    23 May 12
    10:21 am

  187. I suggest watching the Charlie Booker link I posted earlier. Comparing the Salvo’s and is a Silver medalist a failure? etc etc..its all beside the point, there’s just something pedestrian and trivial about what is a serious issue..yeah it got a lot of hits and Kony is the new bad dude now that all the Dictators seem to be dropping off. But why not the same campaign for Mugabe? I’m not saying the campaign is a failure..its successful in going viral..I think the missionary aspect behind the campaign…religion, conflict, fundraising, rampant (self) promotion all being thrown into the same blender..just seemed wrong to me from the first time I watched the Kony clip. Its not a matter of pissing on the campfire its more a matter of its a hot topic, a serious topic that now seems very trivial, a throwaway scrap of western popular culture. I wonder what Kony’s victims think of it all. I heard after a screening of the film that they weren’t all that impressed. I wonder how much money they got from the fundraising, you know..dollars in their hands, food on the table..I’d like to see those figures against how much went into the coffers of IC.

  188. Mr Concious
    23 May 12
    11:06 am

  189. @Doug

    The aim is to go through the guys on this ICC list isn’t it? Kony is number 1.

    Isn’t Mugabe a democratically elected leader? Whilst he is portrayed as nasty (I am not weighing into that debate and taking any sides as to whether he is or not as I am not that well informed of the situation) however I will attempt to make a comment / observation:

    Whites invaded Zimbabwe and renamed it Rhodesia (Zim and Zam / Cecil Rhodes etc…) Mugabe rose to power fighting for the rights of native Zimbabweans to be able to rule their own nation again. It was horrific watching 3rd generation white farmers being killed and kicked out of their farms in recent years etc. Whilst those scenes are awful, so to would have been the scenes back in the colonisation of Africa, when invaders murdered, kidnapped and plundered the native folk of these lands. Lots of Zimbabweans lost their land, which had been passed down to them for many generations. I can understand many African’s standing up for Mugabe as a result, I guess? Hence why he is not on a most wanted list..?

  190. Mr Concious
    23 May 12
    11:08 am

  191. *so too…