“Kony 2012” Marketing Campaign Goes Viral

By Trevor Antley.

After a YouTube video by the humanitarian group Invisible Children explodes across social networking sites, activists — and many not usually drawn to civil activism — are taking a sudden and passionate interest in the conflicts of central Africa. The full marketing campaign, dubbed “Kony 2012,” intends to raise awareness of Ugandan rebel leader and terrorist Joseph Kony and of the current U.S. mission to assist in Kony’s capture or killing. Invisible Children in their statement says the campaign’s goal is to “make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.”

Joseph Kony began his Ugandan “rebellion” in 1986. The group he leads, known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), states that its goal is to establish an African theocracy around Kony, whom they believe receives revelations from God through spiritual mediums. Kony and the LRA are notorious for their tactics of abducting children and forcing them to fight in their army, with some estimating that the LRA has forced around 66,000 children to fight for them. For years there have been chilling reports of the LRA abducting and forcing children to murder their own parents. Kony and other LRA members have also been indicted by international courts for “crimes against humanity,” which besides child abduction include mass murders, sex slavery, and other atrocities. His crimes have extended beyond Uganda as the LRA has spread into Sudan and the Congo.

In October 2011, after extensive lobbying by Invisible Children and other groups, President Barack Obama sent 100 U.S. troops into Uganda to serve an advisory role in the capture of Joseph Kony. Since then, however, Kony has become more elusive, and many worry that if he is not captured or killed by the end of 2012, the U.S. will withdraw. The U.S. government was initially reluctant to interfere in the conflict because of the lack of clear national interest, and outspoken politicians, especially Libertarians such as Texas Rep. Ron Paul, have criticized the president for sending troops into a conflict that does not affect America..

The “Kony 2012” marketing campaign seeks to renew awareness of Kony and his atrocities in the hopes that it will strengthen American interest in the conflict and, they hope, help speed Kony’s capture. The campaign will crescendo until it peaks on the night of April 20, 2012, when Invisible Children plans to have recruited enough activists that they can “plaster every city” in the country with “Kony 2012” posters and images.