The Kony 2012 movie is a great example of digital storytelling. It empowers people to join a global community; to connect and share ideas with one another. The movie’s message is inspirational and justified. It implements the “Made to Stick” principles of simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions and stories. Kony 2012 motivates people to be a part of the solution by stressing the importance of the issue for everyone and making it relatable to the audience.
The primary “Made to Stick” principle that Kony 2012 uses is the art of storytelling. It uses a challenge plot that inspires people to act and join the fight against Joseph Kony. The movie also contains elements of a connection and creativity plot. It is a connection plot because it bridges a gap in knowledge and establishes a relationship between people of different races, religions, ethnicities and social status by uniting them under a common goal. Kony 2012 is a creativity plot because it attacks the problem of stopping Kony in an innovative way. Due to the lack of support from policy makers in the U.S. Government, the campaign leaders had to find creative alternatives to spread the message. It took advantage of technology and social media to get the word out and influence others to participate.
The campaign also uses a variety of emotional techniques that impact the audience. In order for people to take action on an issue, they have to care about it. In order for people to care, they have to know. To make people care about an idea, we need to get them to stop thinking analytically and to empathize with specific individuals. Kony 2012 does this effectively by introducing the story of Jacob, a child from Uganda. The movie depicts Jacob’s tale of being one of Kony’s war soldiers who saw his own brother be killed before his eyes. At one point, he breaks down and cries in a very emotional scene that moves the audience. It becomes very real to the audience, because many of us care deeply about our family and loved ones like Jacob did for his brother. This emotional appeal works because it shows how our ideas are connected with people’s self-interest and things that they already care about.
Kony 2012 also introduces elements of unexpectedness that make the campaign effective. One of the most concerning truths about Joseph Kony that the movie reveals is that nobody knows about him. Part of the unexpected principle is that it uses the element of surprise to get people’s attention. Throughout the film, the audience is surprised to hear about Kony’s crimes of abducting children, forcing them to become child soldiers and sex slaves. What is even worse is that nobody knows that this is happening. It generates curiosity within the audience because they notice a gap in knowledge that needs to be filled. Once the message has people’s attention and curiosity, then the possibility for them become interested in acting towards a solution becomes available.
The campaign illustrates a goal that is concrete and explain the idea in terms of human actions and vivid images. Concreteness boils down to specific people doing specific things, which Kony 2012 demonstrates in order to accomplish its mission. In order to capture Joesph Kony, the world must make him famous like a popular celebrity. People can do this by creating posters, stickers and flyers with his name and placing them all over cities in the world. This way his name is brought to the light, as long with the horrible crimes against humanity that he has committed. Concreteness enables coordination by making targets clear, and the campaign clearly targets Joesph Kony as the villain.
Kony 2012 does not lack the credibility nor the simplicity in its message. The author is credible because he has experience working in Africa and hearing the stories of the victims in this situation. Not only does the author have credibility, but the message of the campaign has “internal credibility.” The idea is credible because it is supported by concrete details, statistics, and vivid images that validate the importance of its mission. The principle of simplicity involves stripping a message down to its core, which in the case of Kony 2012 is capturing Joesph Kony and making him face the consequences of his crimes. The difficulty with this principle is that although it is the easiest to understand, it is also the hardest to achieve. The goal of the campaign is to capture Joesph Kony, which seems simple, but if it were that easy then it already would have been done.
In my opinion, the best part about this campaign is the way it delivers its message. It is important to realize that the way a campaign’s message is delivered in a cue for how the audience should react. If you present an argument, it implicitly states that you want it to be evaluated and criticized. This is not the case with Kony 2012. Instead it is presented as a story that engages the audience, involves them in the idea and asks them to participate in its mission. Even though I had already seen this movie before, I was still inspired and motivated after watching. Overall, the Kony 2012 campaign is highly effective in presenting a solution to a problem that the whole world can participate in resolving.