A Tale of Two Influencer Campaigns: Why a Famous Face Isn’t Always Enough

Written by the Editorial Team

Influencer marketing is everywhere, and with good reason; it’s a long-accepted truth that we are more likely to buy something if we receive a recommendation from someone we trust. Whilst big brands are turning away from traditional campaigns, which involve working with well-known personalities often over a long period of time, many charities still rely on a famous face to promote their cause.

But influencers are not the reserve of the beauty and fashion industries or the charity sector, recruitment has its own influencers too. So, what lessons can agency marketers learn from the way other sectors utilise influencers to drive greater awareness of their brands?

Last month, Serena Williams posted a short video to her Instagram, which featured the athlete covering her bare chest with her hands and singing along to the Divinyls hit ‘I Touch Myself’. The video was created in partnership with the I Touch Myself Project and aims to remind women to regularly conduct self-examinations in order to detect early signs of breast cancer. At the time of writing, the video has received 2,219,407 views just on Williams’ own Instagram, has been the subject of international media coverage and has raised the profile of Williams’ own personal brand, as she is heralded as an activist and campaigner.

This, however, is not the only activism Williams has participated in recently. Last week, she also posted a video in partnership with Purple Purse, which aims to raise awareness of financial abuse in relationships. To date, this video has received 368,549 views and significantly less media coverage. Why?

Because, a famous face is nothing without a clear message to a specific audience, and this is where Purple Purse fell short.

The ‘I Touch Myself Video’ speaks clearly to women, encouraging them to self-exam and to inform others. With this, the viewer knows exactly what to do after watching, and the same can’t be said for the Purple Purse video. The viewer can also identify with the first ad, which again the second video lacks.

Whilst creating content which is relatable not to victims but to those who could be allies can be difficult it can be done – as Nike proved this year with their campaign with Colin Kaepernick. This video, which also featured Serena Williams, has amassed 2,993,168 views on Kaerpernick’s Instagram and generated much international attention.

Despite alienating some, Nike knew that their core demographic would align themselves with the message, as proved by the 31% increase in sales in the days following the release of the ad.

We can tend to think of influencers as lifestyle bloggers; the stereotype being a teenage girl with make-up brush in hand, but influence is important in every industry, including recruitment. A recommendation from the likes of Greg Savage or Katrina Collier could strengthen your campaign, but it’s what you do with their endorsement that matters.

Unfortunately for Purple Purse, as both Microsoft and Weight Watchers learned from Oprah Winfrey, a celebrity endorsement isn’t enough to guarantee success. Campaigns must have a strong message and a clear audience to receive that message, otherwise even Serena won’t help them ace it.


Both Purple Purse and the I Touch Myself Project are currently accepting online donations.