Monthly Archives: March 2014

The ‘No Make Up Selfie’ campaign

It would be remiss of CSR Central – a blog at least partly dedicated to the field of charity marketing – if we did not address the online sensation that is the ‘No-Makeup selfie’.

We refer, of course, to the phenomenon where women take self-portraits of themselves without mascara or foundation and post them onto social media platforms – all as a way of expressing their solidarity with those who have fought cancer and to raise much-needed funds for cancer research.

Majella O'Donnell
Majella O’Donnell posts a no make-up selfie to raise funds for Irish Cancer Society –

The campaign has been ubiquitous across Facebook and Twitter for the last fortnight, and to date has raised over €1,000,000 in Ireland and a further £8 million in the UK. The tangible result of this fundraising is that Cancer Research UK say they will now be able to conduct 10 clinical trials that would otherwise not have been funded but for the #nomakeupselfie campaign.

The organic nature of #nomakeupselfie

Interestingly, the campaign has not been co-ordinated by a charity, but instead appears to have emerged organically as a genuine grassroots movement.

The Irish and UK Cancer Societies have said that while they are delighted by the campaigns and hugely grateful for the funds they have raised, they are not responsible for planning or organising them. Instead, like the “Donate A Drink” initiative that we previously featured on CSR Central, the initiative appears to have originated from regular members of the public who wanted to do some good, and who leveraged the possibilities of social media to achieve this goal.

So, why did it spread so quickly? Part of the campaign’s success must be attributed to the horrific prevalence of the cause: the Irish Cancer Society report that as many as one in ten Irish women will get breast cancer during the course of their lives.

Amanda Brunker
Former Miss Ireland and presenter Amanda Brunker shares her Selfie – Irish Times

The simplicity, shareability & positivity of the #nomakeupselfie campaign

But, another part of the success of #nomakeupselfie must be put down to its simplicity; it only requires one click of your smartphone to participate, all of the ‘content’ is created and controlled by the user, and that content is inherently shareable.

Women are also made to feel that by taking their selfie and sharing it online, they are joining a community that is coalescing to fight cancer. Any qualms they might have or vulnerabilities they might feel about appearing online without their make-up are washed away by the self-supporting, reassuring nature of this community.

May and Brenda Race
May Race, 93, and Brenda Page, 81, post their Selfie in aid of Cancer Research UK.

The success of the #nomakeupselfie trend might also be seen as a reaction against other recent social media crazes, such as Necknomination. In particular, it could be read as a way of subverting the peer pressure implicit in Necknomination updates on social media (especially those nominations that compel your connections to act in an irresponsible or potentially destructive manner). Instead, the #nomakeupselfie campaign tries to take that perceived social pressure of social media and turn it into something positive i.e. by ‘nudging’ your Facebook friends and Twitter followers to act in the interest of a good cause.

The future of Charity Marketing?

The #nomakeupselfie campaign acts as a lesson for charity marketers and CSR strategists as to how they need to make their campaigns more compelling and engaging.  For those companies trying to devise compelling Corporate Social Responsibility programmes, the #nomakeupselfie trend might confirm to them the necessity of shifting far more of their communication resources into social media. This is backed up by Patricia McGinty of the Digital Marketing Institute who asserts that the virality of the nomakeupselfie campaign shows “how powerful social media platforms are at raising awareness and spreading a message fast” in a shareable, real-time way that “cannot be replicated via television or print media”.

People in Ireland who want to support the campaign can do so by texting PINK to 50300 or, alternatively, can make a donation to the Irish Cancer Society by visiting UK consumers can make their contribution by texting BEAT to 70099.