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Invisible Children: from viral to flop

24 Apr 2012 Voices

Invisible Children failed to turn its remarkable viral campaign into anything solid on the ground. Kirsty Weakley revisits the issue that few others have.

Invisible Children failed to turn its remarkable viral campaign into anything solid on the ground. Kirsty Weakley revisits the issue that few others have.

Friday night was the worldwide date set by Invisible Children, the charity behind the Kony 2012 video that went viral last month, to 'Cover the Night'.

The American charity had asked its supporters to cover cities around the world with posters, stickers and murals to put pressure on governments to step up their efforts to capture the now infamous Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony.

Judging by the viral success of the campaign video I would have expected my head to be spinning with the sight of Kony heads on my way into work in London this morning, but alas, it was not the case. Quite the opposite, in fact - I saw none. Going by tweets and news stories from around the world, it would appear the same apathic response to the call for action was replicated elsewhere.

Even Invisible Children’s own Tumblr blog is remarkably sparse, with the post of the charity’s action at its own headquarters only being re-blogged or liked twice. There are no posts from anywhere in the UK.

The original Kony 2012 film, which announced Friday 20 April as a day for action, has now amassed more than 88 million views, but it has been dogged by criticism (from myself included) about its message and methods. The follow-up video, Kony 2012 Part II, which aimed to address the concerns raised by critics of the first video, has had just under 2 million views. The viewing figures for the Cover the Night promotional videos on the charity’s YouTube page range between 20,000 and 200,000 indicating that interest in the campaign has diminished somewhat.

So did those young people who were avidly watching, retweeting and generally driving the viral campaign last month change their minds about the campaign as a result of the bad press or are they all too busy revising as we head into exam season? Whatever the reason, this sends an important message to charities about keeping up momentum and not being too ambitious.

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