The #kony2012 campaign, an effort to bring Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony to justice, is succeeding in its efforts to achieve a mass of public awareness. The online buzz has attracted a lot of mainstream media attention. I was a guest of CTV Newchannel’s Afternoon Express today to speak about the elements that have made #kony2012 an online sensation including more than 50 million video views (combined YouTube and Vimeo) and over 2.5 million tweets (as of 1:30pm today as revealed with Sysomos MAP).

During the chat with Todd van der Heyden, I suggested the campaign could be studied on a number of fronts including though a film school lens and communicator’s message maps. Ultimately, though, I believe the success can be attributed to achieving “AHA”: Alignment, Hope and Action.


The campaign, the video in particular, is relatable and reaches the emotional core of its audience. The 30-minute film (unusual for so-called viral sensations) uses several important devices including appealing to our senses as human beings, parents and members of a larger community. Filmmaker Jason Russell’s son, Gavin, represents more than just a cute innocent face; he represents our own confusion in trying to understand and explain atrocities. There’s also the use of familiar visuals such as YouTube and Facebook Timelines which illustrates the unfolding narrative. I could go on.


By showcasing efforts, challenges overcome and successes experienced along the way, Mr. Russell demonstrates change is possible. The film addresses his role in helping save the life of Ugandan child abductee Jacob Acaye. He also effectively highlights that global change doesn’t come about by a few people doing a lot of things, but a lot of people doing some things. Basically, Mr. Russell sets the stage to help his audience feel empowered — that they’re participation will make a difference.


This is important. There must be a payoff to effect change which can be measured. You need a call to action. More specifically, you need simple, scalable calls to action. In the case of #kony2012, the audience is asked to help increase awareness of Joseph Kony by telling others both in person and over social networks. For those who wish to do more, they can purchase a campaign kit or donate funds and receive a free kit. For those who want to do more, April 20th is the big day in which the campaign aims to plaster the world with Kony2012. Why? The campaign aims to bring Joseph Kony to justice before the end of the year; before US policy makers pull the plug on their commitment help the Ugandan Government track down and capture Kony.

I could carry on about this campaign. I wanted to share just some of my thoughts about the sensation. I may expand more in my newsletter. It’s free if you’d like to sign up.