Posted by: itslikethatweb | October 8, 2012

Culture Jamming vs. Cause Marketing

Culture jamming is a great example of harnessing the powers of the media for good. The exploration of its benefits and pitfalls in Chapter 14 brought to mind a specific case study for the complicated process of culture jamming, one that raises some serious questions about its actual merits: the KONY 2012 campaign.

There was a pretty explosive response to this half-hour video that called viewers to action against African warlord Joseph Kony – but perhaps not the reaction its producer and central narrator, Jason Russell, was hoping for. His mission was to make Kony famous through a guerilla poster and advertising campaign carried out by people around the world, in order to make known his terrible reign and work towards stopping it. Viewers would send in money for action kits containing posters and other informational material, and disseminate its contents within their community. It sounds brilliant (and fooled a lot of people), but what Russell dubbed culture jamming can more accurately be classified as cause marketing, which involves a for-profit business partnering with a non-profit organization to create a marketing campaign that ideally makes money and benefits the cause. Russell’s organization, Invisible Children, has garnered negative attention for twisting facts in order to manipulate and enhance their message, as well as using the money they raise for questionable purposes.

When does culture jamming cross over into cause marketing? Can a cause marketing campaign truly benefit its cause without becoming dishonest and losing sight of its supposed mission?

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