Operation Smile case study

Connecting with the next generation of donors

The Challenge

Operation Smile, a leading cleft-care nonprofit, needed to grow its donor base more effectively with demonstrative results. 

The Insight

Research revealed that Operation Smile’s current donor roster skewed older, so there was a big opportunity for growth in reaching a younger audience.

The Solution

We leveraged specific social platforms to meet younger audiences where they are—on TikTok. And we developed a multiplatform approach that bolstered Operation Smile’s digital and social presence, while still leaning into the rich storytelling potential of linear performance TV.


Utilizing Performance TV

We cast a wider net with optimized linear TV. Focusing on a balance between website visits per spot and cost per response helped us identify the strongest-performing stations for Operation Smile.

Bringing Media and Creative Insights Together

Networks have varying criteria for ad content. So we worked with network standards and practices to deliver creative that meets publishers’ specific content guidelines. Because swapping creative too frequently can be resource-intensive, we led a shift toward evergreen creative to simplify operations and reduce production costs. 

Launching Operation Smile on TikTok

We guided Operation Smile in a successful launch on the platform to build brand presence, increase overall reach, and engage with younger audiences. With no prior brand presence, our TikTok activation successfully reached over 4 million people and collected first-party data from over 2 million to be used for future look-alike audiences and lower-funnel retargeting.

Partnering With Content Creators

We identified and contracted five authentic TikTok content creators—who were all personally moved by Operation Smile’s mission—to develop 12 content-rich videos. We used hybrid approach of direct sourcing and the TikTok Creative Exchange incentive program to diversify multiple influencers and reduce lead time.

TikTok vs. Meta:

TikTok achieved significantly lower CPM and CPC versus Meta.

lower cost per
1,000 reach
lower CPM
lower CPC vs. Meta

The Impact

annual revenue has increased 27%
10.3x results over previous campaign
for Performance TV
TikTok activation reached over 4M people
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