Viral Chart Reels From Record-Breaking 'Kony2012' Video

Brands Can Only Watch in Awe as Cause Marketing Storms YouTube

By Published on .

It's not a typo. That's right, the "Kony2012" video -- which drew attention to crimes against children in East Africa -- registered more than 95 million views last week, and well over 112 million total views since it was released nine days ago.

To put that in perspective: no traditional ad for a brand, cause or political campaign has come remotely close to that since we began this chart more than three years ago. Indeed, the only brand that remotely comes close is Old Spice, which had 95.6 million views. The big difference: It took Old Spice a year to do it.

According to Visible Measures, the 30-minute documentary-style video that seeks support for the arrest of Joseph Kony, an international war criminal known to abduct African children, has reached 100 milion views faster than any video it has ever tracked. Susan Boyle, the British singer that made her viral debut when she wowed judges on Britain's Got Talent, came closest but it took her nine days to reach the same mark.

Invisible Children, the nonprofit that created the campaign, has over 750 clips on the web that are contributing to its viewership numbers. Many of them are response videos, likely a reaction to the comments being disabled on the original YouTube post. Across the campaign, there are 860,000 comments, including translated and subtitled versions in Spanish and Chinese.

Only a week after its launch, this cause-marketing campaign has turned into a viral movement fueled, in part, by controversy. Most of the criticism stems from Invisible Children's finances and use of facts. Even though it focuses on what Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army have done in Uganda, the group hasn't been active in that country for quite some time. In a video to supporters and critics (which also has disabled comments), CEO and Executive Director Ben Keesey addresses the organization's use of facts and stands firm to its choice to invest so much into media creation.

Either way, the push-back may have proved to be a catalyst to the organization's success. The co-founder of Invisible Children and director of the "Kony2012" video, Jason Russell, told "The Today show" that since the launch of the campaign, 500,000 action kits have been ordered at $30 a piece, bringing in $15 million. Not bad for a nonprofit very few people knew about a week ago.


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