A little-known American charity dedicated to helping victims of African conflict has scored a public relations coup. Invisible Children‘s new 30-minute Kony 2012 video, directed by Jason Russell, has been viewed over 440,000 times since being placed on YouTube on March 5. The film is intended to raise public awareness of the devastating Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) conflict in Uganda; Fast Company has written previously about the LRA’s routine use of child labor and rape.
So far, the campaign has managed to get more than 4 million total views across the web in a little more than 48 hours. The documentary focuses on Joseph Kony, the LRA leader responsible for years of violent atrocities in Uganda and nearby countries. According to Invisible Children, the film and a related campaign “aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.”
Invisible Children has been canny about marketing the film through social media via the use of Twitter hashtags (#kony2012) and celebrities. Rihanna, Stephen Fry, and The Onion‘s Baratunde Thurston have all tweeted about the film. In addition, Invisible Children is organizing a celebrity pressure campaign to get, among others, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Lady Gaga to publicize #kony2012.
Editor’s note: Since we posted this story, a controversy over some of Invisible Children’s practices has exploded online. Our follow-up story, including a response from Invisible Children, can be read here.