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

by Vicki Eastman

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.

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 Kaepernick’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.

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.