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#SmearforSmear: The Latest Instagram Activism
By: Jennifer Graber
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Smeared lipstick can be a telltale sign of the sort of day you had. It can mean your makeup was not applied correctly or your lunch napkin got a hold of your face. Then there is the best meaning of all — smeared lipstick could be indicative of a pleasant encounter (if you know what I mean). But none of those reasons are why you are seeing an increased number of smeared lipstick selfies in your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds.
The latest in activism comes in the form of challenges and hashtags. This time it is an activist hashtag that is bringing about the slew of smeared lipstick photos. #SmearforSmear is a social media campaign created by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. The campaign was created to bring awareness to cervical cancer and to encourage women to get timely Pap smears. According to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, over one million women “failed to take up the offer of a smear test in 2013–14.”
Failing to get a timely Pap smear test can lead to a delay in diagnosis of a number of problems. Women who do not get regular Pap smears can face an increased risk for early menopause, infertility, cervical cancer, and a number of other potentially harmful diagnoses. As with any medical issue, detection is paramount to increase the chance for a positive prognosis.
Thus, the #SmearforSmear campaign aims to get people talking. Obviously, if you see smeared lipstick selfies, you might go in search of what is going on. When you do your research it might remind you to get your Pap smear or to alert a loved one to get theirs. Follow-through is obviously the ultimate goal, but, if nothing else, #SmearforSmear will at least get the conversation going. Even if the conversation is about how you believe the campaign is silly or strange — you are at least talking about it.
#SmearforSmear encourages both men and women to get involved with smeared lipstick selfies. Encouraging men to get involved may seem odd, but I think it is great. There is no reason that men and women cannot be involved in each other’s health issues. We need advocates of all ages, genders, types, and so forth. After all, it takes all kinds of kinds.
The #SmearforSmear campaign was launched in the United Kingdom, but it has already made its way over here to the United States. There is no doubt that it will spread all over for a far-reaching impact.
Hashtag activism and challenges appear to be the wave of the future. We live in a digital world and it shows. But do these campaigns have a real impact? Or does it depend on the ultimate goal of the campaign, be it donations, awareness, and so forth? As we continue to spiral further into the digital abyss, I believe we will only see more and more of these types of things for charities and campaigns. You have to go where the people are, and the people are online.

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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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