Darling Nigeria: Find Your Beautiful

Darling, a hair extensions brand, re-launched its brand in Nigeria by creating an influencer-led campaign and redesigning its packaging.


Darling is a hair extensions brand available on the African continent. It however lacked a coherent identity. In Nigeria, it was viewed as an old "Mummy" brand with little innovation, known by some but not loved for anything in particular. Our biggest challenge was to drive reappraisal of the Darling brand by promoting their new range of hair extensions and to also have the brand known as the most youthful and dynamic brand in the world of hair extensions that allows women to transition between any number of on trend styles. From the onset, it was important for us to consider the consumers, who they are, where they get their information and what resonates with them. The big idea to drive our campaign was '' (which will then be used online and offline as Darling's new brand message), with the aim of empowering every Nigeria woman to define her beautiful and own it, regardless of societal norms In line with Darling's new brand identity, we wanted to talk and connect to the young African woman who has what we like to describe as 'an unstoppable spirit'. She is progressive, ambitious and striving hard to be a success. She believes that her destiny is in her own hands and takes charge of her life, career and family. She plays multiple roles in her life and in parallel also portrays multiple looks depending on her role or her mood. One minute she can be in a classy office look and in the next she can transition to a bold party look. To kick off the re-launch of Darling in Nigeria we knew that engaging paid influencers would be essential to our campaign (for promoting Darling new range of products – Super soft braids, Afro Kinky & Natural twist) as consumers no longer turn to brands to inform them about what they want or need. They look to other people, people whose influence and expertise regarding a certain industry is valued among consumers. In considering the influencers for the campaign, we looked for people who we knew would be influencers in helping us reach our key objectives: create awareness for Darling (the new products and packaging), reach new audiences as well as drive sales. Targeting women who are known for the best fashion and beauty content, regularly in magazines, seen on TV and have an engaging audience online and offline. We identified 15 influencers from the end of July 2018 for a period of 12 months. Our paid influencer campaign officially kicked off on August 1st 2018. Since our ultimate goal was to convert our influencers audience into paying customers, it was only logical to build our PR and marketing strategy around them. To achieve this, we focused our efforts into getting to know our audience first and anticipate how they might react. We also figured out which influencers they follow and the type of content they would prefer. Once we figured out our target audience, it was time to decide what sort of influencer would best serve our campaign. We took numerous aspects into consideration, such as the tone with which the influencer addresses the audience. In identifying and concluding which influencers we engaged, one key consideration was to ensure we picked millennials (Darling's primary target consumer), it was also important to consider women across Nigeria and not make the campaign "Lagos based" as most brands fall into this trap. Due to on your niche (hair extensions), we needed influencers that are efficient at getting their audience to take action, thought leaders and industry insiders. We settled with 15 influencers: of the 15 are two Northerners (one of the leading Northern actresses in Nigeria and a beauty entrepreneur and influencer) relevant to Darling's industry segment. Women in Northern Nigeria cover their hair, but wear braids. There is also a very popular hairstyle called "Fulani braids", which hails from one of the tribes in the North. This played a key role in our choice. Also engaged are two Nigerian "it girls" in the UK who have a huge Nigerian following and known for having the best fashion and beauty content. We considered them because of the "coolness" it would bring to the campaign, creating awareness not just for Nigerians, but Nigerian's in diaspora. The key reasoning behind this is the fact that during seasonal holiday's such as Easter, Summer and Christmas a lot of Nigerian's in diaspora come home. When they're leaving Nigeria, women tend to do "braids", because it lasts long (it can be carried for at least 6- 8 weeks) and is cheaper to get done in Nigeria. Getting hair done abroad is generally very expensive. With braids, in Nigeria it costs about an average of NGN10,000 (£21.50), while getting it done in the UK costs an average of NGN56,640 (£120). They were selected because of their reach and style which resonates with Darling's brand DNA. The other 11 influencers were selected because they resonate with Nigerian women, seen on TV daily, TV hosts, actresses, reality stars, influential and stylish entrepreneurs and the likes. To kick off the paid influencer campaign, we hosted the influencers to a tea party. The aim of this was to take them through the brand guidelines in a relaxed setting as well as the opportunity to meet the brand executives. At the tea party, the Darling executives shared a presentation about the history of the brand as well as the brands new direction and the role the influencers would be playing with the brands new vision. Following this, we took them through the brand guidelines and confirmed that they had creative freedom, it had to be within the confines of the brand guidelines presented. As influencers were leaving the tea party, they were presented with three gift boxes full of the new range of Darling products, one of the boxes contained products customised personally for each of them with their faces, all of the influencers were pleasantly surprised and excited about this . The other two boxes, were given to them for giveaways which they would use a few days later as the campaign started. The influencer campaign officially kicked off on August 1st 2018, with the re-launch event taking place on August 25th. Kicking off the influencer campaign was one of the activities in the lead up to the re-launch event. The Darling influencers were key to the campaign as they were the first to reveal the new Darling identity and new products. Each influencer was tasked with unboxing their Darling gift box on a chosen day between (August 1st – 15th), one each day. They were given two additional boxes at the tea party to ensure they engaged their audience when they posted by driving conversation about "What beautiful hair" means to their audience. The influencers were then allowed to pick their two winners from their comment section on Instagram, who were then sent gift boxes full of Darling products. The first phase of the influencer campaign generated over 1,000,000+ views on Instagram alone, 9,000+ likes and 5,000+ comments Following the first phase of the campaign, the influencers were grouped into three (groups of five). They were then required to use their Darling products to create their preferred hairstyle. Leaving to kick off from August 15th (they had been informed about this from the engagement and agreement phase), Group B September, and Group C in October. In each month they've been allocated to, each influencer is required to put up two posts on their Instagram. Influencers will continue in this pattern until the campaign ends in July 2019. The reason for dividing them into different groups was to ensure that every month, we have a different set of influencers posting, it was also important to ensure that Darling content creation doesn't become overwhelming for the influencers, leaving them room to be creative and authentic – as they had about two months before they were required to create content from their last post. We also considered the fact that with braids in particular, women do not like to do this consistently to avoid hair loss and breakage, they also prefer to try different hairstyles with their wigs or wear their hair in their natural state. All of this was considered which informed our decision to split them into groups. So far Darling has seen 6x greater ROI from influencer marketing than traditional advertising. 45% of 1,000 Darling customers across Nigeria surveyed in the first week of November said they rely on influencer recommendations when making purchasing decisions. Over 65% of the customers that took they survey are aware of the Darling influencers or have seen a post by a Darling influencer. 40% of customers have purchased Darling products after seeing it being used by an influencer.

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