How L’Oreal Paris Used Social Media Holiday to Promote CSR Effort

To paraphrase Mad Men’s Don Draper, “If you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation.” That’s what L’Oreal Paris tried to do last Wednesday, based in part on what it discovered in a survey of 1,000 people, including 512 women, in late October.

As the results below show, just 15% of the respondents say that social media makes them confident that people are doing positive things for a greater cause. And more than 25% believe social media posts focus only on the achievements of individuals, as opposed to people helping others.

“This was sad,” says Mora Neilson, AVP, strategic marketing, L’Oreal Paris. That’s because one of L’Oreal’s signature CSR efforts is Women of Worth, which celebrates seemingly ordinary women who do extraordinary things for others. An example is 2015 honoree Maria Rose Belding, a 20-year-old college student, who created a database that allows food banks to coordinate resources, ensuring more food gets to those in need. Then there’s 2014 honoree Corinne Cannon, founder of the D.C. Diaper Bank, which ensures needy families receive diapers.

The conversations L’Oreal tried to change last week were those occurring on Women Crush Wednesday, the weekly social media holiday where people of both sexes post photos of women they admire. Using the hashtag #WCW, posts range from people admitting to celebrity crushes on Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato to others whose chosen women are mothers, wives, sisters, the Statue of Liberty and the Starbucks mermaid.

About three months ago L’Oreal’s integrated team and reps from FleishmanHillard and R/GA were brainstorming about how to celebrate the Women of Worth’s 10th anniversary. “We felt our [Women of Worth] were crush-worthy,” Neilson says. The idea flowed from there.

L’Oreal’s hunch, proven in the survey, was that people have an appetite for inspirational posts and posts about women making a difference for others.

To get the conversation started last week, celebs like Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez and Mika Brzezinski posted about the 10 Women of Worth and invited their followers to read about them on L’Oreal’s website. “Women like this would never get this kind of exposure, but they are crush-worthy,” Neilson says.

L’Oreal plans to measure engagement, Neilson says, and while it’s too soon to say if the effort will continue every Wednesday, she says that would be terrific. We agree.

The survey was conducted among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,000 adults 18 years of age or older.

This article originally appeared in the November 9, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.