Chiara Ferragni at the SKII event in Okinawa, Japan in March.


SK-II is getting its money’s worth.

The brand, which tapped Chiara Ferragni as one of four ambassadors to spread the word online about its “Face the Wild |Face the Camera Extreme Expedition” campaign that kicked off last month, just wrapped up its most successful digital activation to date.

SK-II partnered with National Geographic to create a series of four short films shot in extreme conditions for the project, one featuring Ferragni, who was said to have gotten a multihundred thousand dollar payout for her involvement in the project. Kasumi Arimura, a Japanese actress; Nini, a Chinese actress, and Lee Si-young, a Korean actress and national boxer, featured in the other three films, which, collectively, have received 70 million views so far. Among the places each traveled to are the Yanbaru jungle in Okinawa, Japan; the active Ijen Volcano in Indonesia; the Anza-Borrego Desert in California, and the Changbai Mountains in Northeast China with below-zero temperatures.

According to Sandeep Seth, global marketing director at the brand, the campaign garnered 13.27 billion digital impressions and 4.46 million social actions in five weeks. A two-day event supporting the launch in Okinawa, Japan, held on March 13 and 14, on its own fueled 1.34 billion impressions and 3.37 million social actions and engagements.

It was the first time the Japanese-based skin-care company unleashed a digital campaign of this magnitude – orchestrated to have a simultaneous launch from the U.S. and Japan to Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan within 24 hours, said Seth.

It was also the first product focused campaign that elicited such a flood of consumer engagement online. Content captured each influencer traveling to a far-flung locale to “put their skin to the test” using SK-II’s hero product, Facial Treatment Essence.

Last year, a Marriage Market takeover online, rooted in shedding light on real life issues faced by Chinese women, saw high impressions and social actions, Seth said. But the volume was markedly smaller than the chatter created over the past month.
For instance, Face the Wild saw nearly 4.5 million social actions in five weeks, 40 percent more than the eight million social actions Marriage Market drove over a 12-week period last year.

“That is the biggest breakthrough; it’s not just the impressions for us,” Seth said. He was unable to reveal percentage growth in sales but cited a significant uptick resulting from the campaign.

“The business was quite strong…[but] what we saw in March, even though it’s early, [is] that the business has gotten stronger; momentum has picked up. It’s not just awareness, it links back to our business KPIs [key performance indicators]. I believe it’s linked. I don’t have quantitative data to show [yet]…but the momentum has picked up more than the past,” Seth said.

He attributed the success to a few factors.

Namely, the influencers and celebrities had complete autonomy over the social media content around the film that they created, Seth noted. The brand had never given such a modicum of creative control to talent, who were free to talk about the partnership in however they deemed best “expressed their personality.”

Additionally, Seth maintained that “getting more global” helped SK-II achieve better KPIs in each market.

Today, brands are increasingly thinking local as they develop influencer strategies and outreach — opting to work with talent based on geo-targeted locations specific to a campaign or in markets that could benefit from a boost of social chatter. But SK-II has found that the complete opposite seems to resonate.

“Normally, the conventional thinking is that local influencers would have the highest appeal from their own markets…let’s get more local [has been the thinking]…[but] a more universal appeal towards the idea works on a bigger global scale better than we thought,” Seth said. “We’re not going to stop here.”

The Blonde Salad’s Ferragni, the best-known of the group on a global scale, drove the most engagement and activity online for “Face the Wild|Face the Camera Extreme Expeditions.” From just three Instagram posts at the event in Okinawa, she received almost 1.3 million views and 800,000 social actions.

“We model out to predict which communities the brand should ultimately expect to see significant spikes in engagement and additional content creation from,” noted Stephanie Horbaczewski, cofounder and chief executive officer of StyleHaul. The content marketing solution, which was instrumental in the production and planning of the two-day event, used its data technology to analyze the influencer content.

Horbaczewski agreed with Seth. For her, the most surprising takeaway was that beyond the core community SK-II reaches on a regular basis, the campaign resonated on a larger, global scale.

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