Case Study: Olay's Cause Marketing With Influencers

olay face anything case study

Influencer Cause Marketing Case Study: How Olay Achieved An Instagram Engagement Rate Higher Than 8%

Brands recognize that launching a cause marketing campaign enables them to tug at the heartstrings of a generation that values corporate social responsibility. To potentiate those effects, brands have connected their causes to influencers in the same camp. Influencer cause marketing helps brands harness the power of influential tastemakers while also defining their mission to support a cause near and dear to many consumers’ hearts.

Today, social media has given many movements the tools to spread their message with a resounding impact. Influencers add yet another layer, which is why many brands invest in this strategy to amplify their cause. Especially in a saturated digital environment, brands find it quite difficult to cut through the noise. Instagram, however, empowers brands by handing them a megaphone to reach their audience.

Within the beauty industry specifically, one can imagine how competitive the market is when it comes to promoting products that seem to make the same revelatory claims. In order to distinguish amongst a crowded space and drive ROI, beauty brands like Olay can leverage Instagram influencer marketing coupled with good old-fashioned cause marketing.

Olay #FaceAnything Campaign & Influencer 28-Day Challenge

In mid-August 2018, Olay announced a campaign centered on a handful of female influencers to encourage women to be “unapologetically” themselves and to disregard all comments that they were “too much” of a particular quality. Working with nine women (referred to as the “Fearless 9”) as the faces of the campaign, Olay features a diverse range of women with stories that evoke powerful emotions. Olay even made a dedicated micro-site that hosts behind the scenes footage of the photoshoot with Vogue, which will publish the campaign in its September issue.

The “Fearless 9” includes an impressive lineup of models and athletes, such as Aly Raisman and Denise Bidot, as well as other female powerhouses, like Jillian Mercado and Piera Gelardi. Olay also partnered with plenty of Instagram creators who double as female icons. Using the #FaceAnything hashtag as their signature, Olay aims to spark a movement for all women to embrace natural and real beauty, as well as embody confidence despite unrealistic expectations placed on them.

olay face anything instagram

Olay’s message comes across clearly, and it does so without putting a product front and center. The 28-day challenge applies to the various influencers Olay has partnered with, encouraging each one to break free from their normal beauty routines in exchange for Olay skincare products and a makeup-free event at the challenge’s termination. This allows Olay to subtly and more genuinely push its product line of skincare essentials on Instagram.

Influencer Cause Marketing Resonates With Young Consumers

The undeniably authentic nature of this type of marketing resonates with Millennials and Gen Z consumers, who hold brands to high standards and often find influencers more trustworthy than celebrities or other branded content. Through Olay’s masterful strategy, the brand speaks directly to this audience, in which 54% of millennial women prefer the “natural look,” while 84% believe social media acts as the driving force behind the definition of beauty.

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  • Connect to a diverse audience (primarily female) to generate relatability through female icons.
  • Increase brand awareness to encourage women to embrace their real beauty and defy harmful societal expectations.
  • Establish brand affinity and subsequent product sales through Olay’s dedication to empowering women.


  • Channel – Instagram
  • Influencers – Diverse group of heroines.

olay face anything fearless 9

Olay strategically partnered with nine female role models to champion their value of unquestionable and authentic beauty. Looking at the Instagram content, a few different themes are present:

  • The “Fearless 9” commit to the mission of female empowerment by sharing words they’ve been told they’re too much of, such as “too strong,” or “too emotional.”
  • Influencers receive Olay skincare products to demonstrate how they fit into their beauty and skincare routines.
  • All participants allude to or use personal stories to emphasize how females need to rise above and fully embrace themselves.

This promotion strategy supports a larger and somewhat recent societal shift to be more accepting of individual differences, but each representative sheds light on their own experiences of overcoming hardships to hit a little closer to home with their target audience.

“Fearless 9”

  • Aly Raisman Olympic Gold medalist gymnast with 2.3M followers on Instagram.
  • Denise Bidot Mom, model, and activist with 522k Instagram followers.
  • Lilly Singh Entertainer and comedian with 7.9M loyal followers.
  • Elyse Fox Film director and mental health activist with 29.6k followers.
  • Jillian Mercado Model, creative, and activist with 105k Instagram followers.
  • Mama Cax Blogger, advocate, and cancer survivor with 162k followers.
  • Kay Adams Sportscaster and TV personality with 107k Instagram followers.
  • Piera Gelardi Creative director and media mogul with 179k engaged followers.
  • Angela Dimayuga Executive chef and cultural advocate with 21.8k followers.

Influencers (not all listed)

  • Makeup by Denise Professional makeup artist with 1M Instagram followers.
  • Nabela Noor Beauty and fashion influencer with 990k followers.
  • Lindsay Rutland Fashion and lifestyle blogger with 20.4k followers on Instagram.
  • Mari Takahashi Gaming host and Survivor contestant with 767k followers.
  • Jackie Aina Army reservist turned beauty influencer with 1M followers.
  • Lauryn Cakes Fashion and lifestyle influencer with 51.8k Instagram followers.
  • Wendy Nguyen Style blogger and YouTuber with 1.1M Instagram followers.
  • Cydnee Black Beauty influencer and YouTuber with 311k followers on Instagram.
  • Maya Washington Lifestyle influencer and creative producer with 260k followers.

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  • Social Reach
    • Instagram Video Views: 298,556
    • Instagram Followers Targeted: 21,027,546
  • Engagement
    • Instagram Likes: 1,441,220
    • Instagram Comments: 11,654
    • Hashtag Usage: 1,027
    • Engagement Rate: 8.33%

Olay Rallies The Troops As Fearless Faces Of Campaign

Olay launched the campaign centered on nine mighty women using the hashtag #FaceAnything to unify their efforts on Instagram. Each of the nine posted one or more Instagram posts to draw attention to the movement and build anticipation leading up to New York Fashion Week runway. Denise Bidot shared a few different sponsored posts, with one featuring a long-form caption that details her new skincare regimen featuring a few Olay products. With 522k potential impressions, her post earned 11,324 likes and 134 comments for an engagement rate of 2.2%.

Lilly Singh shared a couple of posts in support of the campaign, calling attention to the exciting news of being part of the female cast to walk the runway without makeup. She also expresses deep gratitude for being included on the billboard in Times Square with a heartfelt caption promoting the cause through self-love. Potentially reaching an audience of 7.9M followers, Lilly’s post garnered 673,943 likes and 4,715 comments for an engagement rate of 8.6%.

Mama Cax, an outspoken cancer survivor, updated her Instagram feed with several posts to help promote the campaign on an ongoing basis. Her top performing post features a brief “thank you” message in her caption while capturing a special moment in which she poses in front of her newly erected billboard. Giving shoutouts to the other women whose portraits don the Times Square billboard, her post acquired 15,713 likes and 398 comments for an engagement rate of 9.9%.

Olay Challenges Influencers To Hype Campaign

Alongside the nine women featured in the Vogue spread, Olay reached out to an assortment of lifestyle, beauty, and skincare influencers to partake in a 28-day challenge in which each received custom packages of Olay’s products to be used in preparation of a major makeupless moment. Before the challenge culminates with the makeup-free New York Fashion Week runway in mid-September, influencers have periodically updated their Instagram feeds to show the progress of their new routines.

Nabela Noor took to Instagram to fully support the challenge, featuring multiple posts that document her new routine and add color to her past with skincare problems. In one of her initial posts kicking off the challenge, Nabela introduces her audience to her new journey and invites them to live fearlessly as well. The post racked up 64,533 likes and 575 comments for an engagement rate of 6.58%.

View this post on Instagram

My journey with my skin has been a wild rollercoaster, with the current twist and turn being a series of micro breakouts all around my face, and a rough texture that I used to be extremely insecure about. From a distance it may seem like I have clear, smooth skin but in person and close up, it is visibly rough and bumpy in certain areas. My skin, clear or not, does NOT define me, and I’m excited to partner with #Olay in taking the #28daychallenge. For the next 28 days I’m going to be using a 3 product regimen using only @Olay products to prepare me for a major runway moment. I’m so excited to take you guys along this journey and share my progress over the next 28 days. It’s time to face life fearlessly and confidently. The journey starts NOW! #FaceAnything

A post shared by Nabela Noor (@nabela) on

Perhaps better known for her ballerina and gaming skills, Mari Takahashi, agreed to take the challenge and shared a few posts updating her fans on how much of a difference the Olay skincare products made. She describes the liberating feeling at the prospect of walking the runway without makeup and she embraces what Olay stands for by painting beauty in all her flaws. The post achieved 26,111 likes and 331 comments for a 7.19% engagement rate.

View this post on Instagram

DAY☀ vs NIGHT? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It’s so easy to criticize and only see flaws in our skin. I’ve gone from being called “pizza face” to sorta finding balance to freaking out about my first wrinkle. But through it all, it’s been this awesome journey of digging deeper and learning to love myself inside and out. So then WHY do I/we still default to needing makeup to truly feel confident? Anyone else feelin this? ? I guess I’m still learning… which is why I’ve accepted the #Olay28Day Challenge. Which means I’ll only use @Olay products for 28 days and at its conclusion, I’ll walk the RUNWAY alongside other incredible women at none other than the super glamorous New York Fashion Week… with ZERO makeup on. Fashion Week AND baring all my flaws. Talk about a lesson in self love, acceptance, and being fearless enough to #faceanything! I’m excited to share the journey with you. ROAR! ?? #NYFW #ad #Olay

A post shared by MARI TAKAHASHI (@atomicmari) on

Christen Dominique highlights her glow in a series of posts that capture her enthusiasm for the campaign challenge. She features photos with her renewed skin and includes engaging captions to build suspense and keep her audience’s attention. In her introductory post, she generated 50,593 likes and 304 comments for a 3.64% engagement rate.


  • The “Fearless 9” females lead Olay’s #FaceAnything campaign with empowering messages to invite other women to embrace their true beauty.
  • Instagram influencers raise awareness of Olay’s cause marketing movement by weaving its products into their daily skincare routines for a 28-day challenge.
  • Olay influencers update their progress throughout the challenge, in an attempt to build awareness and anticipation of the main event.
  • Olay throws a New York Fashion Week runway event featuring the makeup-free influencers who participated in the challenge in order to spotlight an important social mission.
  • Through a team of well-regarded influencers and a meaningful cause, Olay builds long-term and niche exposure to promote its skincare products.