The ‘no make-up selfie’ – a brilliant campaign or just narcissism?

It’s everywhere. As soon as you open up your Facebook feed there’s a spate of friends posing without make-up in a bid to help raise cancer awareness and inspire others to donate with the simple action of the #nomakeupselfie hashtag. Selfies may have been old news last week but this week you can’t get away from them.

Personally, when I first caught glance of this, I must admit it irritated me. My mother suffered from cancer, and when I wanted to raise money for the cause, I went around and pledged to run a marathon, raising donations. I couldn’t understand how posing without make-up and posting it on Facebook with a hashtag could help raise money. In fact, it smacked of narcissism rather than altruism. Where was the call to action to donate? From what I could fathom, most comments were about how great their friends looked without make-up rather than the crux of the issue: to raise breast cancer awareness. But within 24 hours this ‘campaign’ allegedly raised more than two million pounds for Cancer Research, and the debate it sparked, both negative and positive, is insurmountable. If we’re to learn anything from this as a content marketing piece, any campaign that sparks mass debate is in itself effective.

Interestingly, the ‘campaign’ was not conceived by a content agency head strategist. It was, in fact, a simple idea sparked by author Laura Lippman, who posted a picture in support of actress Kim Novak, who adds the hashtag #breastcancerawareness to her selfies.

Cancer Research, noticing a trend, then sent out a tweet: “We’re loving your #cancerawareness #nomakeupselfie pics! The campaign isn’t ours but every £ helps #beatcancersooner.”

The trend then escalated with the set-up of Facebook page No Makeup Selfie For Cancer Awareness, which in a matter of days has already gathered almost 300,000 likes.

And the news continues. Just Google ‘no make-up selfies’ and you’ll find a flurry of stories. So, to conclude, am I less irritated by this campaign, knowing its effectiveness for a good cause? A little, but most of all I’m impressed by the learnings we can take from this as content marketeers. Any news is good news. Spark debate, get people talking and you’ve won half the battle.