Last week was the week we dared to bare our natural selfies on social media to raise money for CRUK – but the unusual origins of the campaign may surprise you.
Last week was the week we dared to bare our make-up free selves – and unless you have escaped the clutches of Facebook you won’t have been able to miss it. But why did we do it? Was it a bid to raise money for CRUK? Was it an act of rebellion against women feeling pressured to be photoshopped ‘beautiful’? Was it just a trend for trends’ sake? Or was it just another thing to nominate your friends to do? And that’s the point, not many people know where it came from, but it spread like wild fire.
The Bare Face Selfie actually started, not by CRUK as many believe, but when novelist Laura Lippman tweeted a picture of herself without makeup in response to the criticism 81-year-old actress Kim Novak received for her appearance at The Oscars. She captioned it ‘Team Novak all the way’ and a trend was born. As the first ripples of virality appeared, someone somewhere used the selfie to capture donations for CRUK, and an organic brand campaign was born. CRUK has since raised over £2 million from this new social movement.
Of course, like everything that goes viral you have negative feedback along with all the positive. The words ‘vain’ and ‘narcissistic’ have been related to the campaign, but the tell me – what’s vain about standing shoulder to shoulder with your friends and family and showing an image you would never normally portray in your ‘social media life’?
The unusual origins, organic growth and consumer-driven brand association of this campaign make it one of a kind. Until now, some of the best social media campaigns out there (no doubt created by blockbuster brands with big budgets e.g. Coke, Heinz, Nike and Cadburys) worked by hijacking current trends and shoehorning their brand message into them. The #nomakeupselfie has done exactly the opposite: the trend naturally turned into a brand association, probably spurned by the affection people hold for CRUK (who have done a great job recently) and the desire to support a good cause.
This campaign is setting a precedent for the future, and as we watch it continue to spread the list of questions grows: How do brands and agencies now need to act in the social space when cultural memes and trends are born? How can the success of the #nomkaeupselfie be repeated? And what does this mean for the role of agencies?
Words by – VT
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