Campaign Objectives

  • To ride the selfie wave and bait people’s ego into posting more selfies.
  • To raise donations and recruit future supporters of Cancer Research UK (CRUK).

Campaign Background

The #nomakeupselfie movement took off on Facebook and Twitter. The challenge behind the campaign was to get people to post their selfies without any makeup and challenge their friends to do the same. This was to spread awareness regarding Cancer and raise funds for the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) so that they could set up more clinical trials.

But, surprisingly, the cancer charity did not start the trend – it grew organically. This made a huge impact on social media and got a lot of attention in national newspapers and on radio and television news.

No one knows exactly how the no-make-up selfie started. Some speculate that it may have been a reaction to the negative comments directed towards 81-year-old actress Kim Novak following the Oscars, when people lined up to sympathize with her by posting pictures of themselves without makeup. 

Several newspapers in the UK reported that it was the idea of Fiona Cunningham, a young woman from Stoke, who posted a make-up-free picture to show solidarity with Kim Novak and asked people to donate via text message to a cancer charity after losing members of her family to the disease.

Fiona raised £2 million herself. But this besides, CRUK raised £8 million that covered the expenses for 10 new clinical trials.

Cancer Research UK set up a text number to make donating even easier:

The campaign had immense reach and social influence, including several celebrities:


Cancer Research UK


Reasons for Virality

  • Simple, not overly engineered.
  • Played on people’s vanity.
  • Easy to participate.
  • Moved awareness to text to donate to a cause.
  • Drove even more traction from offline public relations.
  • Increased excitement through nomination/tagging.

Social Media Influence

The #nomakeupselfie movement broke several barriers. Besides raising considerable amounts for donations towards cancer research, it:

  • Opened opportunities for other charities to use same method
  • Generated 600 news stories
  • Reached 80 per cent of UK adults
  • Achieved 221,400 Facebook fans and 8,000 Twitter followers

Campaign Costs

  • No direct costs.
  • Follow up with donors via SMS (unknown costs).


  • It raised £8m (£1 million in the first 24 hours) for Cancer Research UK and made 2.8 million new friends.
  • Ten new clinical trials started that wouldn’t exist without the no-make-up selfie.


  • Heralds a culture of innovation and freedom (Useful).
  • First of its kind (Unique).
  • Excellent use of social media channels (Ultra-Specific).
  • Sensitive approach to donor follow-up (Urgent).

Wrapping Up

There are loads of merits to the #noselfiemakeup campaign. Drop a comment below and tell us which viral campaign you want us to break down next. Also, share this blog with more people who might want to learn how different campaigns went absolutely viral.


Peace Out!