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The Kony 2012 video has sparked a major roundtable conversation here at the Holstee office! Among the staff, there was a wide range of reactions to the film: from inspiration to frustration, anger at Kony to anger with Invisible Children, enthusiastic support to guarded skepticism. As an ethical company with a passion for storytelling, the Kony campaign triggers a lot of big questions about how we as a company communicate our values to the public. The major theme was this - in terms of cause marketing, do ends justify the means? 

If a film has problematic elements or is overly sensational but it gets people talking about otherwise unknown issues – is this a success? If we are ultimately able to mobilize viewers to take action on an issue, how much do our tactics really matter? And if viewers are mobilized, what responsibility do we have in ensuring that this translates into lasting social change for the “beneficiaries”?

Furthermore, do we have to “dumb down” a story in order to reach a large audience? Is there a direct relationship between the simplicity of a story, the deliberate attempts to tug at heartstrings (and purse strings), and the number of youtube views? We know that tropes in mainstream movies and television work because they are instantly recognizable and easy to understand. So should non-profits and social enterprises use these tried and true techniques in their storytelling? Or do we have an obligation to tell the most whole, most true story that upholds individual dignity above all else?

In case you were wondering, the jury is still out on all of these questions…. But we had part one of this very animated conversation this morning and would love to hear feedback from the Holstee family. Please feel free to leave comments below!

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