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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

#BeautyInEverySmile Campaign

Entered in Social Good Campaign


A 2020 brand health survey revealed that only 1 in 10 people in the UK was aware of Smile Train. Worse from our perspective, less than half even knew what a cleft lip or palate was, let alone that they can be life-threatening.  

World Smile Day in early October is always one of Smile Train UK’s biggest advocacy and visibility days. For World Smile Day 2023 (October 6), we knew we needed to go all-out to create an impactful, consumer-focused campaign that would educate the public about our crucial cause and spark a public conversation about clefts. Specifically, we aimed to: 

  1. Launch a campaign for Smile Train to showcase the power of smiles and highlight challenges faced by Britons with clefts.  

  1. Generate engaging consumer coverage across various media channels. 

  1. Boost brand awareness of Smile Train among diverse UK audiences. 

  1. Build creative assets for visual campaign messaging and community stories.  

  1. Propel the creative and community stories on social media through storytelling and content utilizing organic and paid strategies. 

Strategy and Execution

Smile Train, our creative agency The PHA Group, and representatives of the UK cleft community laid the foundation for the campaign by conducting a nationally representative survey of 2,000 people, with and without facial differences, to examine societal treatment and attitudes towards smiling, identify stigma around clefts, and gauge the power of a smile as a positive force. 

Findings revealed 34% of individuals with facial differences, including clefts, faced discrimination or negative comments. Thirty percent reported bullying, leading to self-consciousness (29%), unhappiness (28%), embarrassment (28%), and depression (27%). The research also highlighted that 53% of the public does not love their smile. 

The findings confirmed our suspicions about the scope of the problem. Thankfully, we had an ambitious strategy to address it: 

Story Collection: We engaged a diverse group of cleft-affected individuals to share personal perspectives on what it’s like to live with a facial difference, then partnered with an agency to turn them into media material, exhibition copy, and a script for a hero film.  

Shoot: Led by noted photographer Fanny Beckman and RedKite Films, we captured portraits for an outdoor exhibition to accompany the hero film. The two-day shoot fostered relationship-building, inspiring subjects to become Smile Train ambassadors.  

Design: PHA curated large, flat, durable, lightweight outdoor display boards to get put our ambassadors’ cleft-affected faces and stories in the public eye, along with the survey results. 

Landing page: We crafted a strategic UX to prioritize mobile accessibility, house all campaign elements, share Smile Train’s vision, and facilitate donations. 

Release: We drafted all aspects of the campaign; survey data, quotes, hero photography, and exhibition details and pitched them to national, consumer, London-centric, broadcast, and charity trade media, according to a pre-planned media strategy. 

Exhibition: From Oct. 5 to 7, we exhibited our 12 cleft ambassadors’ portraits and stories outdoors on London’s South Bank. A QR code directed passersby to a landing page for their extended stories and the hero film. On launch day, a PA Media photographer distributed event photos, with a special eye on making 'Photo of the Day' features. 

Social: Activating an organic strategy across social platforms, we aimed to maximize reach, garner campaign interest, and boost attendance at the exhibition. A Meta-focused paid strategy utilized video content to drive traffic to the landing page and exhibition.  

Content included behind-the-scenes footage, hero film cut-downs, an event video with vox pops, and subject interviews. 

Features: Post-exhibition, subject stories were placed with features writers in national, consumer, and regional media. Collaborating with PR, marketing, and creative trade titles, we also delved into the creative inspiration and process. 

Radio: Targeting regional listenership, we partnered with ON Media to reignite discussions around findings and campaign messaging. Back-to-back interviews featured Smile Train UK Director Ian Vallance, photographer Fanny Beckman, and subjects Isobel Cameron (26 years old) and Alii Robinson (32 years old), who shared firsthand experiences of living with a facial difference. 


This campaign scored 36 strategic Tier 1 consumer placements across diverse media platforms, accumulating 455.6k online views.  

Highlights included: A picture of the South Bank exhibition in The Guardian's Photo of the Day, and features on the exhibit appearing in the London Evening Standard online, PR Week, and a five-minute segment on BBC Radio Devon, among others. 

Social media channels amassed 17.3k views.

100% of coverage included our campaign messaging, and 83% went beyond to detail Smile Train's vision. 

Smile Train UK's social channels grew by 6%, gaining 1,200 new followers, exceeding benchmarks set by previous campaigns.  

Fifty feed posts and 95 stories were shared using our #BeautyInEverySmile hashtag. Organic and paid strategy likewise delivered impressive results, achieving 630,000+ impressions and 320,000+ engagements. Combined, they drove 4,000+ link clicks to the campaign landing page. 

Aiding, Instagram influencers Penny Lancaster and Dani Harmer’s six posts on the campaign reached 401,500 people, further extended by micro-influencers like girlwiththebob and instantgoddess

The exhibition drew about 90,000 attendees from October 5-7, establishing itself as a vibrant hub for engagement and affirming its resonance with the public. 

The landing page experienced an impressive 49% increase in traffic compared to the previous year's World Smile Day campaign. 

The hero film generated over 95,000 impressions and 59,000 engagements on social with a remarkable Cost Per View (CPV) of $0.03 USD. The two-minute film, shared across platforms, amassed 25,000 impressions and 20,000 engagements and views.  


Video for #BeautyInEverySmile Campaign

Entrant Company / Organization Name

The PHA Group, Smile Train


Entry Credits