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It’s been just six days since the #NoMakeupSelfie appeared on our social networks. In that time, Cancer Research has received more than £8m in donations (and that’s despite some being sent to Unicef by mistake!).

The photos of women with no makeup flooded sites on 20th March and continue to fill timelines and feeds today. Each post nominates other women to post a selfie and donate £3 to Cancer Research via text.

What makes this campaign so unusual, is that it wasn’t a planned campaign. In fact, Cancer Research didn’t even start it. It was an organic movement of women who all got on board to collectively support a cause which is sadly close to everyone.

While in some senses the no-makeup selfie is a unique phenomenon, it has several key features in common with other campaigns that went global:

  1. Timeliness
  2. Culture
  3. Access
  4. Endorsement


The timing couldn’t be better. With the recent spate of selfies, including the Oscars selfie which became the most retweeted photo ever, the concept was always going to be well received.
Just think about WaterIsLife who hacked a trending hashtag #FirstWorldProblems, adapted its tone, and used it to produce an extremely successful multi-channel campaign,


What is it with our self-obsession? In the days before camera phones, snapchats and insta-everything, did we take selfies? (And in fact, did we take photos of our food, our nail polish, or our cats?) Our culture has shifted, meaning it is both normal and expected that every once in a while you should pout at a camera and take a photo. But without this, we would have never seen such a reaction.

To be truly effective, any campaign must always be able to understand and exploit the current cultural landscape.


For a campaign to catch the public’s imagination, it has to be accessible and easy to participate in. The breast cancer pink ribbon, red nose day and the poppy appeal are all great examples of how simple concepts can make an unforgettable change.

All the #nomakeupselfie asks for is for you to have a camera, internet access, give £3 and be a woman. It’s that simple, and that’s why it worked


While all these other factors are important, the most influential one was endorsement – celebrity endorsement. In the late 20th and early 21st century, we have become more obsessed with the “celeb” than ever before. There can be no greater gift for a company than someone like Beyonce or Beckham promoting their band, and this is no different for charitable campaigns.

Movember had Ashton Kutcher and Damian Lewis, the uber successful Live Aid had Bob Geldof and countless other A-list celebrities, and the no-makeup selfie certainly has this same star studded stamp of approval: Michelle Keegan, Holly Willoughby and Kim Marsh have all gone bare faced for charity.

So we’ve given you a couple of shots of us makeup free and made our donations.

Oh and Ingenuity Digital, NetConstruct, Econsultancy and SmartInsights – consider yourselves nominated!