Campaign Teardown

Campaign Teardown: Smile Direct Club Is All Smiles with Kaitlynn Carter

By Editorial Staff

“Fame is the thirst of youth,” wrote English poet Lord Byron.

In social media, popularity gives a practical benefit: money in exchange for a few minutes of work. Fame is lucrative because a trend-setter can sell products anytime, anywhere to a willing audience.

That includes wonderful teeth. The global orthodontics market will reach $2.6 billion by 2023, according to Allied Market Research.

One-Off Rep or Strategic Partner?

For orthodontic companies, hiring uber-celebrities is expensive, and therefore out of reach.

Kylie Jenner (145 million Instagram followers) commanded $1 million per post in 2018, with that number rising even higher this year. Selena Gomez (156 million followers): $800,000.

For global brands like Nike or BMW that can afford high fees, one-offs aren’t necessarily the best way either. At $1 million per post (Kylie Jenner), Nike can break even by selling 40,000 pairs at $25 profit each.

But there’s a reason why they’re paying basketball star Zion Williamson $75 million over 7 years. Big brands like multi-year partnerships in which influencers sell hundreds of millions in merchandise, as well as gain the benefit of long-term sales from ongoing visibility that mega-influencers provide. 

Multi-billion dollar enterprises also need to impress Wall Street, not small investors.  In short, global brands need to move the needle.

Kaitlynn Carter and Smile Direct Club

Marketers can optimize a social media campaign based on cost-efficiency and effectiveness. It can make sense to work with B and C-List celebrities who don’t charge as much.

Look at Kaitlynn Carter. She’s Brodie Jenner’s ex-wife and star of MTV’s “The Hills: New Beginnings.” She has 1 million Instagram followers, and Instagram is arguably the most effective platform for influencer marketing.

Kaitlynn Carter's Instagram

Smile Direct Club is a Nashville, Tenn.-based tele-orthodontics company that charges just $2,000 or less for teeth alignment, as opposed to $5,000 to $8,000 for traditional braces. They’re disrupting the orthodontics industry by:

  • radically lowering cost
  • reducing the treatment time to just a few months
  • minimizing interactions with dentists to just one visit
  • and by shipping aligners directly to customers.

Customers get their mouth scanned at one of 300 retail locations nationwide, and the company ships 24 plastic aligners in the mail. That’s their only interaction with a dentist. Customers take selfies and send them over the web to keep tele-dentists updated. 

Smile Direct Club has spent heavily on marketing to raise visibility for its products, but also to boost its enterprise valuation. It launched an initial public offering (IPO) in Sept. 2019. 

Revenue rose 190% to $423 million in 2018 and, according to Forbes, the company spent more than half of sales on marketing on social media, television, billboards, and other channels.

Hiring a B-List Influencer

In July, Kaitlynn posted on Instagram for Smile Direct Club, promoting a $100 discount on teeth aligners. It received nearly 12,000 likes. 

A survey by Klear (of 2,500+ influencers worldwide) found that celebrities with 500,000 followers or more may accept fees as low as: 

  • $2,085 for an Instagram post
  • $3,857 for a YouTube video
  • $2,400 for a Facebook post.

Assuming a social engagement rate of 5.5%, the post received 200,000 views. Further assuming a conversion rate of 1.5%, that means 3,000 fans purchased aligners at $1,795 each (including discount).

“For brands, we typically see a conversion rate of between 0.75-1.5% on paid promotions,” says Brian Sorel, chief operating officer of NeoReach.

Applying the above assumptions, Kaitlynn’s Instagram campaign generated nearly $5.4 million in sales (3,000 x $1,795). In the teeth alignment industry, 55-70% gross margins are not uncommon. For example, Invisalign has 71% gross profit on similar products.

Kaitlynn’s Instagram post shows that medium-size businesses can make money by targeting less-prominent celebrities who have a large social following. 

The keys are to (1) make reasonable assumptions about impressions and conversion rates, and (2) negotiate a fee that’s a win-win for both sides.

Suppose Kaitlynn accepted $50,000 or even $100,000 to promote teeth aligners. Smile Direct Club, which has locations nationwide, would have made a tidy profit. It’s safe to assume that Kaitlynn Carter’s followers all want awesome teeth.

Check out our previous campaign teardown here!

This article was written by Editorial Staff

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