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The Kony 2012 Controversy: Does this discussion apply?

Invisible Children has been widely criticized for the way it highlighted warlord Joseph Kony and his Lords Resistance Army. Specifically, skeptics tore through their financial statements and methodology, branding the movement as the poster-child for 'slacktivism'. Does Mr. Pallotta's TED talk apply here, or did Invisible Children act beyond the boundaries that the speaker listed?

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  • Mar 14 2013: I had much the same response. In fact, I wrote a piece about this very issue a few months ago for the IR Journal here at UCLA.

    The Slacktivism of Generation @:

    "...Lastly, and with a view to looking at Slacktivism in general, an argument can be made that dismissing 100 million views as mere “sound and fury” misses an important lesson from the “real” world of business. The Direct Marketing Association states that on average you can expect to get a 2.6% response rate to a direct marketing campaign. From 100 million views, that translates into over 2.6 million “customers.” In fact, the DMA suggests that the direct response rate for non-profit campaigns is closer to 5.23%. The idea that people would willingly respond to unsolicited advertising, and yet somehow would NOT respond to a viral campaign appears to be illogical. If you read an advertisement for a new iPad, you are an active consumer… but if you watch KONY 2012 you are a Slacktivist!"
    http://the-generation.net/the-slacktivism-of-generation-a-new-era-of-human-rights-activism/
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      Mar 16 2013: I agree with you Marquis, that campaign was pure marqueting genius and while we were busy branding it as slacktivism, we should have been studying how they did it and why people responded so much. Other non-profits could learn from it, though they might want to avoid the white savior complex that reeked in the video
  • Mar 14 2013: Dan Pallotta actually weighed in on this very topic: http://blogs.hbr.org/pallotta/2012/03/the-kony-2012-controversy.html
  • Mar 13 2013: While this is by no means an informed opinion, I can say that Kony2012 is the first thing that I thought of while listening to this talk.

    I think many of the criticisms of the Kony campaign are well refuted with this talk, at least the criticisms of exactly how much money was spent on field work as opposed to marketing or paying people (although I don't know all of the information about how much people were paid in the organization, ect.) Other issues were raised about Kony2012 though, which may or may not be easily refuted, such as how the money was used on the ground to try to catch Kony (who was armed, ect.). I really don't know enough about that to give a good opinion, however.

    What is true is that I think the Kony campaign may have ended up hurting people's belief in NPO's as a whole, and I wish the collapse of it hadn't happened, especially with the high-profile humiliation of it's founder. And I do think much of the criticism of Kony2012 is based on the idea that NPO's shouldn't market, which may have lead to the founder's emotional collapse (although this is supposition).