“Nothing is more powerful than an idea.”

This is the first line of text featured in viral sensation web video, ‘Kony 2012’ narrated by Jason Russell (and his son). When a video grows from 10 thousand views to 100 million views in just 6 days, it’s hard to disagree.

Created by the organization ‘Invisible Children’, the video chronicles the horrific crimes of Ugandan LRA leader Joseph Kony, and challenges viewers to take action to stop him.

Along with a swell of popularity has come a backlash of political criticism, making this marketing campaign a very intriguing case study in social media and human interest.

At Rip Media Group, we pay attention when something strikes a chord the way ‘Kony 2012’ has. Without taking a side, we will point out what can be learned from the last week of this video’s journey.


It has the ‘STUFF’

As stated in his upcoming book, The Sales Force, How to use social media sales to launch your brand, Maury Rogow credits a NBC Universal for relating how successful ads use emotional triggers to incite action.  The acronym is: ‘STUFF’.

STUFF stands for: Sensual, Touching, Unique, Fear and Funny. These are five common emotional elements that can be found in a successful promotion – the more of these emotions you can create, the better the reaction. In my opinion, ‘Kony 2012’ clearly features three of these: Touching, Unique and strikes Fear. The touching story of the children in Uganda is effective in drawing sympathy for the cause. The craft and execution of the visual piece is commendable, and the unique tactics and solutions that make this video stand out above the rest. The man with a target on his back, Joseph Kony, is displayed clearly as a dangerous, immoral man who is a major threat to peace, and children –evoking fear and urgency.

It made me want to stand up and take action to stop him immediately.

Which adds up to…


What bumped this video into the realm of uber-viral was a clear call to action. In simple terms, the video says, “We must stop Joseph Kony, and here is how you can help.”  With “action kits” and easy clicks for donations, the video ends its moving and inspirational imagery by challenging every viewer to share, share, share. It worked: 100 million views – I am writing this after only one week.


Google “Kony 2012” and you’ll find a number of articles and videos published in the past few days that feature many people up in arms about the accuracy and tactics of Invisible Children’s video. From a marketing perspective, what does controversy do to share-ability? In many instances, controversy can help.  For this particular movement, will the backlash hurt its popularity? In some ways, it already has. Screenings of the video in Uganda have been cancelled due to unfavorable reactions, and the rate of online views are slowing down. But, as the founders of the organization are interviewed on major news networks to defend themselves, more viewers may be intrigued to see the video. Time will tell how these developments will affect the video and the movement.

So, what can all of this prove for the potential of web videos? Well, as ‘Kony 2012’ showed, with inspiration, ingenuity and the right amount of ‘STUFF’, a lot can happen in 6 days.  Either way, video marketing can be an amazingly powerful force.

RipMedia Group is an integrated marketing agency in Los Angeles that specializes in corporate motion graphics, corporate animation videos, web video design, website optimization, social marketing, and corporate video production.  www.ripmediagroup.com/portfolio

Maury Rogow