Digital Death: stunt for a good cause

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Don’t recall where I saw the campaign first – must’ve been one of the several branded emailers in my mail. The headline ‘Kim Kardashian is Dead’ was intriguing but one kind of new that this was some kind of stunt. Turns out that this is part of Buy Life campaign, where the world’s most followed celebrity Tweeters are sacrificing their digital lives to help save millions of real lives affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India. The goal is to collect $ 1,000,000 through fan contributions. Fans can thus buy the lives of their celebrities – the catch being that those celebrities will switch off from their digital lives until the goal is reached.

As ideas go, this is definitely bold, large in scale. But some thing didn’t feel right about it:

– a serious issue like AIDS get associated with a stunt. The good cause and the objective of raising funds is relegated to the backburner while the celebrities take center stage

– maybe the fan following of these celebrities was overestimated. Would one really miss if Ms. Kardashian did not tweet for a few days?

– there isn’t an element of cascading effect or participation from digital natives. The best of digital campaigns work by tapping on the insight that social media is all about ‘pass-along value’ and the chain it creates

At the time of writing, $ 161,350 has been generated. Another $ 838,650 to go before the celebrities are back online. Some may do all they can to keep it that way. I wish the campaign succeeds, though.

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