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Special Project

Special Project
From the 9th Annual Shorty Awards

Mary Kay’s “I Can…” Campaign

Entered in Multi-Platform Campaign


Since 1963, Mary Kay cosmetics has helped enrich women's lives. Mary Kay product is exclusively sold through its direct-selling model of Independent Beauty Consultants (IBCs) across the United States. The company's rich direct-selling legacy is a testament to Mary Kay Ash's commitment to giving each customer a truly personal experience around beauty and, most importantly, making her feel important.

In August 2016, Mary Kay launched a month-long, multi-platform digital campaign to "Market the Opportunity" (MTO), designed to highlight the opportunity of owning your own Mary Kay business as an IBC under the theme, "With Mary Kay, I Can…"

The goal of the "I Can" campaign was to elevate awareness around the Mary Kay opportunity on social, and specifically to increase new visits to — the first step in signing up to become a new IBC.

A complementary goal of the "I Can" campaign was to reach new audiences on social with a fresh voice, all while staying true to Mary Kay Ash's vision of a deeply personal experience with the brand. The result was a custom campaign that brought the excitement, confidence, positivity and unique experience of Mary Kay IBCs to life through a combination of social creative.

Strategy and Execution

Mary Kay IBCs are diverse, independent and strong business owners who pursue their dreams all while supporting themselves and their families. Through the "I Can" campaign, we shared their compelling true stories to attract potential IBCs.

We photographed and recorded the personal stories of over 550 Mary Kay IBCs, starting with the prompt, "With Mary Kay, I Can". Responses ranged from "I can be a role model for my daughter" to "I can help enrich other women's lives."

Each individual portrait was hand-selected and designed to live on Mary Kay's official brand channels. Since Mary Kay has a diverse fan base, it was vital the "I Can" campaign resonate with many different audiences, while communicating clear next steps to those interested in learning more.

The campaign resulted in 100-plus unique pieces of social content, reaching targeted audiences across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube and Paid media targeted specific audiences, including fans of Mary Kay, moms, college students, nurses, teachers, other direct-sellers, cosmetics fans and Spanish-speaking cosmetics fans.

The energy of the campaign was captured in a 30-second, made-for-social hero video featuring behind-the-scenes footage from our IBC photoshoots. The video was edited for native posting on all social platforms and later cut into a dynamic TV spot that ran during Lifetime's "Project Runway," a TV show for which Mary Kay was the official beauty sponsor.

Throughout the primary campaign window of September 2016, content was optimized per platform to best resonate with that audience. Specifically:

  • On Instagram, the campaign launched with a grid of nine stylized black-and-white IBC portraits paired with long-form post copy of IBC success stories.
  • On Facebook, a series of IBC portraits paired with their success stories was posted as an organic album, as well as dark targeted ad units.
  • Twitter featured #30Facesin30Days, highlighting one IBC a day for 30 consecutive days by sharing their "I Can" portrait paired with a quote from their Mary Kay story.
  • A new Pinterest board featured SEO-optimized pins with IBC stories, FAQs about starting Mary Kay business, as well as unique, motivational quotes from IBCs including, "Ask for the ridiculous so that you can expect the miraculous."
  • We brought the "I Can" campaign to Tumblr — a first for Mary Kay — to reach a younger demographic of beauty enthusiasts with inspirational "I Can"-themed graphics, GIFs and portraits.
  • Two videos on YouTube featured behind-the-scenes look at our IBC photoshoots, as well as close-ups of IBCs paired with visuals of their "I Can" statements.

Additionally, two social initiatives gave all IBCs and Mary Kay fans the opportunity to join the "I Can…" campaign:

  • A custom filter on allowed users to add an "I Can" graphic to their Facebook and Twitter profile pictures and photos.
  • Strong calls-to-action encouraged fans to share their personal success stories using #MyMKLife, resulting in a range of UGC content that showcased the true diversity of Mary Kay.


Mary Kay's "I Can" campaign was a true omni-channel execution, reaching women and men across social media, outdoor advertising, digital display, television and print.

On social, custom paid and organic content spoke to potential IBCs across six platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube — resulting in 43.9 million impressions and 1.2 million engagements. Campaign-specific video content was viewed over 943,000 times across all social platforms.

The official campaign hashtag, #MyMKLife, was used over 25,000 times across Instagram and Twitter during the campaign window, most often accompanying UGC photos from fans featuring a look into their life as an IBC.

The personalizable "I Can" photo filter on Twibbon had over 50,000 organic custom photo downloads.

The social media campaign inspired content off-line, resulting in a truly "social-first" advertising campaign.

  • In Times Square, five custom digital billboards cycled through a grid featuring every single one of the 550 portraits, generating countless impressions.
  • Mary Kay took advantage of their "Project Runway" Season 15 official beauty sponsorship by featuring a TV spot of the hero social video during the Mary Kay Challenge episode.

In total, the social media campaign drove 219,431 direct clicks to, the official hub of the campaign where IBC portraits and stories were showcased along with additional information about next steps. Over 21,713 new IBC sign-ups were generated as a result of the "I Can" campaign.


Video for Mary Kay’s “I Can…” Campaign

Entrant Company / Organization Name

McBeard, iCrossing, Mary Kay


Entry Credits