Abstract: How do you get people talking about an unknown brand in a category of undifferentiated products? That’s the challenge U.S. Cotton presented to its communications team in 2012. A social media program, the Sleep Naked campaign, was implemented to raise awareness for Swisspers cotton rounds and convince women 18-‐34 to remove their makeup before bed—meaning they would Sleep Naked. The campaigns featured teasers, virtual events, and celebrity competitions facilitated through social media. The 2012 and 2013 campaigns successfully boosted brand awareness for Swisspers and garnered attention from celebrities and reality stars, including the Kardashian sisters and others. #Swisspers and #SleepNaked trended nationwide.
Michele E. Ewing, APR, Fellow PRSA, Associate Professor, Kent State University
Shawn Engler, Product Manager, U.S. Cotton
Heidi Modarelli-‐Frank, APR, Vice President, Public Relations & Social Strategy Marcus Thomas LLC
In 2012, U.S. Cotton set a business goal to increase sales for its Swisspers Premium Cotton Rounds and launched its first national marketing program. This case study focuses on how social media strategies generated conversation about a low involvement product category and motivated young women to become more engaged in the purchasing decision process for cotton rounds and makeup-‐removal techniques.
With a limited budget, U.S. Cotton partnered with an integrated marketing communications agency and created Sleep Naked, a social media campaign to convince women 18-‐34 to remove their makeup before bed. Secondary and primary research activities were conducted to assist with shaping the communications strategy for the Swisspers’ campaigns. Secondary research focused on a review of studies and literature to gain audience and industry insight. Two online brand tracker surveys were conducted to assess the impact of marketing communications activities on brand awareness, perceptions, preference, and purchase intent, develop and test the brand’s marketing communications hypothesis, and gain additional industry insight.
The communications objectives of the social media campaigns were to create brand awareness and preference for Swisspers Premium Cotton Rounds among its target audience of women 18-‐34. Research shaped the strategic approach of capitalizing on the audience’s engagement with social media, using influential bloggers and celebrities as opinion leaders, incorporating a charity component, and hosting a competition to spur online conversations about makeup removal with Swisspers rounds.
Communication strategies that focus on presenting opportunities to trigger behavioral motivations are supported in literature (Jackson 1998), as well as using celebrities or influencers to attract an audience’s attention (Okay 2002).
The 2012 campaign involved five beautiful, well-‐known women with large social followings (250K+ followers) – many with celebrity friends with large fan bases. The Swisspers influencers included actress Malika Haqq, recording artist Melissa Gorga, beauty/humor blogger Jodie Rivera (aka VenetianPrincess, YouTube’s longest-‐reigning, top-‐ranked female channel), Hollywood makeup artist turned lifestyle/beauty blogger Kandee Johnson, and popular fashion blogger J, of J’s Everyday Fashion. Swisspers continued the Sleep Naked campaign in 2013 with two competing teams, blondes vs. brunettes, in Sleep Naked Face-‐Off. Swisspers partnered with two celebrities – one blonde (Emily Maynard, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette) and one brunette (Danielle Jonas, Married to Kevin Jonas). The opinion leaders were invited to Sleep Naked for charity, which really meant they would send their makeup-‐free photos to be revealed on Swisspers social media channels during a virtual event called National Sleep Naked Night. The woman with the most votes would receive a donation to her favorite charity. In the weeks leading up to the event, these influencers teased their Sleep Naked photos on social media. Curious fans posted influencers’ makeup-‐free photos, and as their own makeup free photos on social media. Fans also participated in conversations with the celebrities and influencers about the Sleep Naked campaigns and skin care via posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The SleepNaked campaigns were successful in activating behaviors around both Swisspers and makeup removal. The campaigns effectively boosted brand awareness for Swisspers and garnered attention from celebrities and reality stars, including the Kardashian sisters, women from the Real Housewives television series, and others.
From tease to final voting – a three-‐week period during the 2012 campaign, Swisspers jumped from 250 to 21,000 Facebook likes, garnered 40,000 votes and 60,000 visits to its Facebook campaign tab. Further, a brand tracking study showed that 25 percent of all women 18-‐34 recalled the campaign, and 8 percent specifically walked away with campaign messages. Of those women, 90 percent took some kind of action, such as changing their nightly face-‐cleansing habits or purchasing the product.
The 2013 campaign effectively capitalized on the success of the prior campaign. Twitter was used as one of the main platforms and resulted in nearly 3,000 campaign mentions. The use of brand hashtags skyrocketed in the 2013 campaign, with more than 300 percent additional hashtags used. The conversation about the Swisspers brand escalated with 72 percent of conversations associating Swisspers with Sleep Naked vs. 20 percent in the 2012 campaign. One out of three cotton product-‐users conveyed intent to purchase Swisspers rounds.
Based on comparing the 2012 campaign involving five influencers and the 2013 campaign featuring two celebrities, it was determined that a competition limited to two celebrities provided less motivation and opportunity for campaigning. It is recommended that mobile optimization be incorporated in campaigns centered around the use of Web and social media strategies to maximize accessibility for audiences.
Overall, the Sleep Naked campaign demonstrated the power of using a mix of celebrities and influencers to build brand awareness and preference through online conversations with a brand’s target audiences. Both Sleep Naked campaigns earned a range of industry awards.
U.S. Cotton is the leading manufacturer of cotton products in the Americas. With over 30 years of experience in all cotton categories, it holds the number one position in the market for health and beauty-‐aid cotton products. U.S. Cotton produces private-‐ label cotton products for major retailers in the U.S. and Canada, and it also offers the Swisspers® brand of cotton products.
How do you get people talking about an unknown brand in an unadvertised category of undifferentiated products? That’s the challenge U.S. Cotton presented to its advertising and public relations teams in 2012. The result was a national marketing communications program – the Sleep Naked campaign – to promote U.S. Cotton’s Swisspers brand, specifically its makeup-‐removing cotton rounds. One aspect of the communications program was a social media campaign.
The goal of the social media campaign was to create brand awareness for Swisspers among its target audience of women 18-‐34. The 2012 Sleep Naked campaign successfully boosted brand awareness for Swisspers and garnered attention from celebrities and reality stars, including the Kardashian sisters, women from the Real Housewives television series, and others. Then in 2013, the Sleep Naked campaign featured a celebrity face-‐off for charity, leveraging the momentum of the prior campaign to elevate the cotton round category and continue to build brand awareness for Swisspers.
This case study highlights the 2012 and 2013 Swisspers Sleep Naked campaigns and examines how social media strategies can effectively build brand awareness among a national audience within a short time frame. The blogger and celebrity outreach strategies via social channels were implemented for a three-‐week period, which was supported with two-‐month digital advertising campaigns during the fall of each year.
U.S. Cotton offers a full line of cotton-‐based products, including 100% cotton rounds, squares, swabs and balls. It produces a range of makeup-‐removal tools for competitors, as well as its Swisspers brand. U.S. Cotton set a goal to increase brand awareness and preference for Swisspers Premium Cotton Rounds, which are made with 100% cotton and patented technology.
The primary market for cotton rounds is women who use makeup. Cotton rounds are considered a low-‐involvement good and require minimal purchasing effort. Since cotton rounds are considered a commodity good, and consumers tend to shop primarily by price, Swisspers needed to educate consumers about the benefits of buying a premium cotton product for makeup removal. Further, although research documents many health and beauty benefits for routine makeup removal, an Olay study indicated that 50 percent of women do not wash their faces regularly, and 80 percent of these women do not do it properly (Worick 2013).
For the brand-‐awareness campaign, the female audience was narrowed to the age group of 18-‐34 years old. This audience is still developing lifelong skincare habits, predisposed to health and beauty news and discussions, open to and willing to share opinions about health and beauty routines, and digitally and socially connected (womensmarketing.com; Pew Research Center, 2010). U.S. Cotton needed to motivate young women to talk and think about cotton rounds first and foremost and then create a preference for Swisspers. To generate conversation about a low-‐involvement product category, the target audience needed to become more engaged in the purchasing-‐ decision process for cotton rounds and makeup-‐removal techniques.
Communication strategies that focus on presenting opportunities to trigger behavioral motivations are supported by Patrick Jackson’s behavioral communication model (1998). Jackson advocated that public relations practitioners should focus on behavioral change for target audiences and developed a behavioral communication model: awareness, latent readiness, triggering event and behavior. The “triggering event” helps audiences experience the idea, product or service. For example, a university or hospital could host an open house event to provide an opportunity for audiences to visit and interact with staff.
Albert Bandura’s social learning theory also focuses on behavioral motivation. Bandura says “we can learn new behaviors merely by observing others” and notes that the more rewarding the outcome for the behavior, the more likely people will adopt (Bandura, Albert. 1971, p. 7).
In the elaboration likelihood model (ELM), Robert Petty and John Cacioppo (1986) suggest two routes, central and peripheral, to influence people. The central route involves audiences who are interested in the message and take time to consider and evaluate it; elaboration is high in this route. If the audience is uninterested or distracted with other issues (elaboration is low), this model then asserts the peripheral route.
Message repetition, source credibility, rewards and other factors may influence audiences through the peripheral route (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). The basic premise of ELM is that changing attitudes will lead to behavioral change. Petty and Cacioppo advocate that the central route leads to long-‐term attitude changes and can be accomplished through making the message more personally relevant to the audience.
In a study conducted among award-‐winning public relations practitioners by Aydemir Okay and Ayla Okay (2002), more than 80 percent of the practitioners agreed with the ELM’s principle that an audience’s attention can be attracted by ‘“celebrities, reliable spokespersons, or various rewards”’ (Okay & Okay, 2002).
When developing a communication strategy, practitioners must consider channels to convey the information to target audiences. With the escalating growth of the Web and social media communications, scholars study the usage and effectiveness of online channels. Charles Li and Josh Bernoff (2008) use the term “groundswell” to describe “”A social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations” (p. 9). Li and Bernoff advocate communicators should tap into the groundswell because social media offers ways for audiences to consult with peers and experts to make decisions about products, services and ideas. With this in mind, social media provides opportunities to move audiences through Jackson’s behavioral model and capture the audiences’ attention so they can observe and adopt new behaviors as described in the social learning theory. Social media also can be used to effectively convey messaging to audiences via ELM’s central and peripheral routes.
Further, Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger assert that “markets are conversations” with audiences engaged in relevant topics (p. xiv). They advocate that the networked markets are becoming more informed and smarter. The authors focus on the sociology of social media and on the strategies that companies and communicators can employ to listen to and connect with target audiences. Levine et al. advocate that market conversations are going to happen with or without corporate participation:
“Brand loyalty is the corporate version of going steady, but the break up is inevitable—and coming fast. Because they are networked, smart marketers are able to renegotiate relationships with blinding speed” (p. xvi).
David Meerman Scott (2011) also conveys the importance of creating a culture and process to quickly act to capitalize on real-‐time marketing opportunities. Scott notes that the balance of power has shifted in the marketplace with audiences being more empowered. “Scale and media buying power are no longer a decisive advantage. What counts today is speed and agility” (p. 17). According to Brown and Fiorella (2013), social media channels can “build customer lifetime value” (p. 213). The authors state that social media plays four roles to influence the consumer’s decision-‐making process: listen to audiences’ conversations; build relationships through multidimensional platforms in real time; magnify online conversations; and convert prospects into customers and advocates (p. 214).
Therefore, it is important for public relations professionals to know how to apply communication theories and social media strategies to effectively connect with target audiences and achieve informational and motivational communication objectives.
Secondary and primary research activities were conducted to assist with shaping the communications strategy for the Swisspers’ campaigns. Secondary research focused on a review of studies and literature to gain audience and industry insight. Two online brand tracker surveys were conducted to assess the impact of marketing communications activities on brand awareness, perceptions, preferences and purchase intent; develop and test the brand’s marketing communications hypothesis; and gain additional industry insight.
In April 2013, an online study was conducted among 506 women, representative of Swisspers’ target audience (18-‐34 who wear makeup), not employed within the beauty supply, retail, advertising or marketing research industries. This study evaluated the 2012 communications campaign and offered insight to shape the 2013 campaign.
In November 2013, a post-‐campaign online brand tracker survey was conducted among about 500 women representative of the same audience of the pre-‐campaign survey to assess results. For both surveys, the margin of error ranged from four to nearly eight percent, depending on the question, the audience segmentation for the question, and sample size.
Planning and Timeline
Secondary research indicated that Swisspers’ target audience, women 18-‐34, were avid social media users. According to the Pew Research Center’s 2010 Internet & American Life Project, Swisspers’ target audience ranked among the highest groups using social networking sites; 83 percent of adults ages 18 to 33 use social media (Pew Research Center, 2010). A 2013 Pew study reported in that 9 out of 10 studies Pew conducted between December 2009 and December 2012, women were significantly more likely than men to use social networking sites (Pew Research Center, 2013). The Pew study also indicated women are significantly more likely than men to use Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram; similar numbers of women and men use Twitter and Tumblr. The results within both the 2010 and 2012 reports are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International among samples of over 2,200 adults, age 18 and older.
Secondary research also documented the power of online peer influence. Based on a Forrester study, Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li (2008) developed a peer influence analysis to assess the extent to which people influence other people online about a product or service. Research showed that Swisspers’ target audience was highly likely to share and seek peer recommendations.
The April 2013 online study indicated: Heavy social media usage among women 18-‐34 was tracked, particularly Facebook and YouTube. About 80 percent usually remove makeup before sleep; however, the habit was less among women 18-‐24. Only 22 percent of women remove their makeup using cotton rounds. The survey indicated that once consumers tried Swisspers, they had a very high tendency to prefer, intend to purchase and recommend Swisspers as being a high-‐quality product. The study also reported insight about the effectiveness of the 2012 campaign and ways to improve the strategic approach for future campaigns. (See p. 15.) A follow-‐up brand tracker report was conducted in November 2013 to evaluate outcomes for the 2013 campaign. (See p. 24.)
2012 Sleep Naked Campaign
Cotton set a business goal to increase sales for its Swisspers Premium Cotton Rounds and launched its first national marketing program in 2012. The goal of the campaign was to create brand awareness for Swisspers. It sought to educate women about the importance of properly removing makeup each night before bed and doing so using Swisspers Premium Cotton Rounds.
With a limited budget, U.S. Cotton partnered with an integrated marketing communications agency and created Sleep Naked, a social media campaign to convince women 18-‐34 to remove their makeup before bed—meaning they would Sleep Naked.
Strategies focused on capitalizing on the audience’s engagement with social media and using influential bloggers and celebrities as opinion leaders to spur online conversations about makeup removal and Swisspers and encouraging the audiences to try Swisspers Premium Cotton Rounds.
The campaign involved five beautiful, well-‐known women with large social followings (250K+ followers) – many with celebrity friends with large fan bases. The emerging social influencer community wields significant power over the perceptions of brands and companies. According to a 2012 consumer trends study by Nielsen, 74 percent of consumers use social media to inform purchasing decisions, while 70 percent trust consumer reviews. These figures are up 15 percent from a similar 2008 study.
Nielsen utilized a global survey with more than 28,000 respondents to generate its data (Nielsen 2012).
Two-‐Step Flow Theory of Mass Communication also supports the use of influencers as a key communications strategy. According to the Two-‐Step Flow theory developed by Katz and Lazarsfeld (1955), rather than having a general and direct effect, messages disseminated by mass media are filtered by opinion leaders, who decode messages and mediate the transmission of information through many group interactions. This theory may be even more profound, given the aforementioned reliance on social media among the 18-‐ to 34-‐year-‐old demographic. Lyons and Henderson (2005, p. 319) also indicate that bloggers in particular possess “higher levels of enduring involvement, innovativeness, exploratory behavior, self-‐perceived knowledge, and more expertise with product categories.”
The Swisspers influencers included actress Malika Haqq, recording artist Melissa Gorga, beauty/humor blogger Jodie Rivera (aka VenetianPrincess, YouTube’s longest reigning, top-‐ranked female channel), Hollywood makeup artist turned lifestyle/beauty blogger Kandee Johnson, and popular fashion blogger J, of J’s Everyday Fashion.
- Five celebrities/mega bloggers pledge to Sleep Naked for charity
- Combined Reach: 3,222,781
- Inﬂuencers reveal a “naked” photo on our Facebook page
- Photo revealed during a Twitter Party on National Sleep Naked Night
- Inﬂuencer with the most votes receives a $10,000 charitable dona)on
Figure 1. Online Influencers in the Swisspers Sleep Naked Campaign, 2012
They were invited to Sleep Naked for charity, which really meant they would send their makeup-‐free photos to be revealed on a Swisspers Facebook tab, the campaign hub, during a virtual event called National Sleep Naked Night. The woman with the most votes would receive a donation to her favorite charity. In the week leading up to the event, these influencers teased their Sleep Naked photos on social media. Curious fans posted comments about the photos and campaign on Facebook and Twitter.
Figure 2. Sleep Naked Campaign Phase 1 Tease: October 10-‐17, 2012. During a nationwide Twitter party (hashtags #Sleepnaked #Swisspers) on the night of October 17, 2012, the influencers unveiled their makeup-‐free photos. For the reveal, six beauty bloggers hosted a National Sleep Naked Night party on Twitter. In a short time, #Sleepnaked was trending nationally on Twitter, and thousands were clicking to the Swisspers Facebook tab to check out the photos and vote. For next two-‐and-‐a-‐half weeks, fans voted and shared. Several celebrities campaigned for their friends on their own social media accounts, including the Kardashian sisters, several Real Housewives and other celebrities.
Figure 3. A Twitter party reveals makeup-‐free photos on October 17, 2012.
Figure 4. Fans voted for their favorite makeup-‐free blogger and shared content during the Sleep Naked Campaign Phase 3 Voting: October 17-‐November 9, 2012.
Figure 5. Bloggers reveal the meaning of Sleep Naked and educate fans about makeup removal.
From tease to final voting, a three-‐week period, Swisspers jumped from 250 to 21,000 Facebook likes, garnered 40,000 votes and 60,000 visits to its Facebook campaign tab.
A brand tracking study showed that 25 percent of all online women 18-‐34 recalled the campaign, and 8 percent specifically walked away with campaign messages. Of those women, 90 percent took some kind of action, such as changing nightly face cleansing habits or purchasing the product. The 2012 campaign earned numerous accolades, including the Facebook Studio Gallery, Silver Cleveland ADDY, Silver District ADDY for Non-‐Traditional Advertising, IAC Best Advertising Social Media/Social Network; EX Gold Best Use of Social Media and a Bronze WOMMY from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.
2013 Sleep Naked Campaign
The results of the 2012 Sleep Naked campaign indicated that Swisspers showed promise for strong differentiation and preference based on its quality, after consumers tried Swisspers products. Swisspers continued the Sleep Naked campaign in 2013 with two competing teams, blondes vs. brunettes, in Sleep Naked Face-‐Off. This campaign was designed to: elevate the category of cotton rounds; build awareness for the Swisspers brand; encourage trial and interaction with Swisspers rounds; and more closely align Swisspers with the campaign message: SleepNaked. Strategies focused on using celebrities and bloggers to lead the social media engagement efforts and challenge the fans to take the Sleep Naked pledge. Swisspers partnered with two celebrities – one blonde (Emily Maynard, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette) and one brunette (Danielle Jonas, Married to Kevin Jonas).
Figure 6. Two celebrities competed in a Sleep Naked Face-‐Off in the 2013 campaign.
Figure 7. Five beauty bloggers hosted sponsored content and giveaways to support the celebrities’ efforts.
A microsite served as a campaign hub with links to pledge to “Team Maynard/Blonde” and “Team Jonas/Brunette,” current stats for each team and to tweet questions for Maynard and Jonas. From September 2-‐18, the women rallied “Team Blonde” and “Team Brunette” supporters via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to promote the most pledges from women vowing to Sleep Naked. The winning team would host a party on National Sleep Naked Night on September 19, and their fans would have a chance to interact with the celebrity live via social media.
Five beauty bloggers also were recruited to amplify the celebrities’ efforts, host sponsored content and product giveaways on their blogs, and drive discussion on social media on National Sleep Naked Night. It is important to note that the conversations were on message with celebrities, bloggers and fans talking about the benefits of good makeup-‐removal habits and the use of Swisspers cotton rounds.
After continued support from hashtags #sleepnaked #Swisspers #teamdani and #teamemily, Danielle Jonas and Team Brunette won. On September 19, she answered fan questions live via Twitter and Instagram video. As the winner of the Sleep Naked Face Off, Danielle Jonas was awarded $7,500 for charity.
Figure 8. The celebrities and bloggers posted content and interacted with target audiences for 16 days (Phase 1) leading up to the National Sleep Naked Night event (Phase 2).
Figure 9. Supporters, including other celebrities, tweeted and retweeted content to support Team Blonde or Team Brunette
Figure 9. Sleep Naked Face-‐Off Winner, Danie1lle Jonas, hosted an Instagram Q & A with fans.
Both #Swisspers and #Sleepnaked trended nationwide. Paid Facebook media performed 245 percent better than projected. Post-‐event advertising ran through mid-‐ December on Walmart.com and Amazon.com with the message: “Some wrinkle removers cost $100 an ounce. This one costs pennies.”
Table 1: Visits to Microsite
|Device Type||Visits||Percent of Traffic||Pledge Rate|
In terms of visits to the microsite (the campaign hub to make a pledge to “Team Blonde” or “Team Brunette”), more than double the number of people used mobile phones to view the Sleep Naked microsite; however, more users pledged while using a desktop computer (see Table 1). It was discovered that voting on a mobile device was difficult for users if they were not previously logged into their Facebook accounts with mobile browser.
Table 2: 2013 Sleep Naked Engagement
|Program Component||2013Projection||2013 Actual|
|Visitors to Sleep Naked Microsite||51,000||51,357|
All projected estimates were exceeded with the exception of the pledges and shares (see Table 2). The mobile accessibility of the site created an obstacle with sharing and pledging. Also, the call to action for “pledging” may have seemed like an over-‐commitment. However, barriers to pledging did not stop avid fans from spreading the #Sleepnaked message and rallying for their team on their own social networks.
In the 2013 campaign, Twitter was used as one of the main platforms and resulted in nearly 3,000 campaign mentions. The use of brand hashtags skyrocketed in the 2013 campaign, with more than 300 percent additional hashtags used. The conversation about the Swisspers brand escalated with 72 percent of conversations associating Swisspers with Sleep Naked vs. 20% in the 2012 campaign. One out of three cotton-‐product users conveyed an intent to try Swisspers rounds.
For the 2012 campaign, awareness of the campaign was higher than expected.
The majority of those who had heard of Sleep Naked reported hearing about it on Facebook, which was the main platform for the 2012 campaign. Almost half of those who said they had heard of Sleep Naked associated the campaign correctly with Swisspers. Given the goal of the campaign to create buzz around the subject of removing makeup, this also indicates better results than expected.
The 2012 campaign’s overall goal was to persuade consumers to perceive makeup removal as an essential facial routine: 57 percent of women who recalled the campaign were inspired to remove their makeup more regularly; 52% reported they were inspired to purchase Swisspers cotton rounds.
The 2013 campaign’s goal focused on leveraging momentum from the prior campaign to build brand awareness, promote product trial and align Swisspers with the Sleep Naked message. As reported, the conversations associating Swisspers with Sleep Naked increased by more than 50 percent in 2013, compared to 2012. A higher rate of “use” reference was documented in 2013 conversations vs. 2012. The follow-‐up brand tracker report indicated the intent to purchase Swisspers was favorable with one out of three cotton-‐product users and all current Swisspers users indicating an intent to purchase. Sales of the Swisspers brand peaked at 17-‐20 percent during the campaign compared to 11 percent during the same time in 2012. Overall, brand awareness was relatively steady year to year.
According to the brand tracking report, 9 out of 10 participants were inspired to take action. The most common inspired action was to remove makeup followed by to search for more information. The intent to purchase among first-‐time and repeat buyers was relatively the same at 23 to 24 percent of participants. In terms of elevating the category of cotton rounds, about 20 percent indicated plans to switch to cotton rounds.
Mobile optimization is a must for this 18-‐ to 34-‐year-‐old female audience and needs be prioritized for future campaigns, to make it easier for the audience to access information and participate in the campaign. Research shows social networking activity is among the most frequent activities performed with mobile phones. For example, a Mobile Consumer Survey by Adobe in 2013 indicated 71 percent of people accessed social media via their mobile phones (Pun 2013).
In both years of the campaign, using beauty bloggers and celebrities to lead the campaign helped elevate the Sleep Naked campaign to engage its target audience. In year one, celebrities drove 10,085 visits to the microsite, while the bloggers drove 6,442 visits. The intended mix of celebrities and bloggers was effective. The celebrity-‐like influencers, i.e., Melissa Gorga, Dani Jonas, were designed to get attention, but the bloggers played a key role in education and purchase influence. They had more space to tell the larger story about the benefits of removing makeup at night. Forrester Influencer Pyramid implies that peer-‐like influencers, such as mid-‐tier bloggers, are often more trustworthy influencers and more effective at persuading opinion than celebrities. This research was brought to life in the Swisspers 2012 Campaign. When Kim Kardashian tweeted to campaign for Malika Haqq, Swisspers saw an immediate spike of 20,000 visits to the site in a few hours; however, the traffic didn’t necessarily vote for her candidate. In fact, a beauty blogger, J. from J’s Everyday Fashion, actually won the competition without a celebrity campaigning for her.
Both the celebrities and bloggers were a necessary component to gain awareness for the campaign and persuade consumers. The target audience quickly connected the message to its meaning and showed willingness to embrace the idea of Sleeping Naked.
This case study tested awareness and behavioral change within six months after the first campaign and two months after the second campaign. Future research is warranted to explore the durability of attitudinal and behavioral change instigated through a communication strategy involving a mix of celebrity and peer influencers.
Implications for the Practice of Public Relations
Swisspers was an unknown brand in an unknown category with few dollars. Even if Swisspers could reach the audience of women 18-‐34, these women wouldn’t have reason to listen. Swisspers needed influencers both to attract attention and to persuade.
The Sleep Naked campaigns documented the effectiveness of using celebrities and other influencers with large social followings to attract attention and generate online conversations about a brand, even when an audience has no or limited involvement with the brand and product category, supporting Petty’s and Cacioppo’ (1986) premise in ELM theory. Early research shaped the strategy of defining and identifying key influencers, while evaluative research showed differences in the effect each influencer type had on specific campaign goals. Interestingly, this case study indicated that, while the celebrities effectively attracted attention to the brand and benefits of makeup removal, the beauty bloggers and other peer influencers created the most significant impact on motivating audiences to pledge to routinely remove their makeup and consider Swisspers cotton rounds for makeup removal. Public relations professionals should consider a mix of celebrity-‐like and peer influencers to achieve awareness changes and prioritize the role of peer influencers to drive behavioral changes.
Sleep Naked Night conveyed opportunities for hosting online “triggering events” and how social media can be used to build awareness and motivate audiences to form attitudinal and behavioral changes. This case study demonstrated how social media strategies can effectively move target audiences through the stages of Jackson’s Behavioral Theory (1998). The celebrities and bloggers effectively attracted attention to the benefits of makeup removal and use of Swisspers cotton rounds via content development and their ability to reach audiences through their fan base. Through watching celebrities and peers reveal their “naked” (makeup-‐free) faces online, other women were motivated to share their “naked” faces for the world to see, as well as to consider Swisspers’ rounds or reinforce brand preference for current users. Social media provides an ideal way for audiences to easily connect and learn from each other, and public relations professionals can capitalize on social media’s value in creating conversations and relationships. As the literature noted, market conversations are going to happen, and brands need to listen and participate.
Mobile optimization is a critical consideration for social media campaigns. With the growth of smart phone usage and apps, audiences are more likely to engage with brands, if they can easily access information and participate in the campaign via phones. This case study also demonstrated the power of demonstrating products and techniques via social media channels.
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