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Behind MERIT's Successful Solo Shadow Campaign
Featuring an interview with Robin Bouweiri, Brand Design and Social Lead at MERIT.
Social campaigns are hard.
Having worked in this world for over ten years, I’d say that I have a fairly good sense of if a one-off post will do well. But when it comes to campaigns, specifically creating posts that ladder back up to a bigger announcement, it can be tough. You are usually creating content a cool three to six months before you’ll actually post it—trying to predict how it will resonate in what feels like a lifetime on the internet. There are a lot more stakeholders than usual, all weighing in on the best way to tell the brand story. And, lastly, there’s just A LOT of pressure for the posts to perform.
For today’s newsletter we are going deep on MERIT’s Solo Shadow campaign, which led to a 12,000 person waitlist for their new eyeshadows in less than a week. I chatted with Robin Bouweiri, Brand Design and Social Lead at MERIT, about the campaign timeline (“We kicked off the brainstorming process for social eight months before launch”), wiping their grid (“The team archived every single post—over 1,300—in less than 24 hours”), and how to build an impactful social campaign (“A successful launch is rarely about telling or showing one story—but exploring and creating a world with many pillars of storytelling and content).
Rachel Karten: First can you tell me about your current role and any previous social (or not!) roles you've had?
Robin Bouweiri: I’m the Brand Design and Social Lead at MERIT, where I translate our brand identity and visual language across our social media platforms. In line with most social roles, my responsibilities encompass a broad spectrum—content strategy and creation, calendar management, art direction and design, and, of course, aiming at making as relevant content as possible.
In my previous positions, I worked on small teams in fashion and skincare, which required wearing multiple hats. Although my core expertise is in design, I actively contributed to various facets of creative marketing, and social media has always been a component of my responsibilities.
RK: I really want to focus this interview on the Solo Shadow social campaign—it was so good! For those who maybe missed it, how would you sum up the product and the campaign around it?
RB: Solo Shadow was born out of a clear need within our community for an eyeshadow that was easy to use, impossible to mess up, and not part of a 50-shade palette. For the campaign, we really tried to make the point that Solo Shadow is not your traditional eyeshadow product—it is the antithesis of the complicated shadows that made us want to stop wearing the product altogether. This narrative was woven throughout our messaging and visuals, and served as the anchor for the campaign.
RK: How far out from the release did you start brainstorming the social strategy?
RB: Nothing happens in a vacuum—one of the keys to MERIT is that we have a really amazing cross-functional team who all come together to discuss the core narrative of a product far before it launches. This allows all our channels to be harmonious and tell the same story. We kicked off the brainstorming process for social about eight months before launch, but we worked on the concept at the same time as product development—so we were shaping the product’s identity and narrative for years prior.
Although we had been working on the campaign for several months, it only really started to take shape in the final month before launch. While we had a framework for the rollout of the campaign, we spent the final weeks fine tuning every last detail—from the messaging to the order of each social post to the final visual references we used. It ultimately came down to the story we wanted to tell and the way in which we unveiled it.
RK: I loved how you wiped the grid and it almost felt like a whole new sub-brand. What made you decide to do that?
RB: The launch of Solo Shadow was our most significant campaign to date. We wanted to signal to our community that this was a major moment for the brand, and also create a blank slate to really tell this story without any other distractions. It also took a ton of manual work from the team—something we’re never scared of if it has greater impact.
The real challenge was not in this decision but in the strategic planning required for what would follow. Since the visual identity of Solo Shadow differed a bit from the brand's typical look and feel, careful consideration was given to the subsequent steps to avoid feeling off-brand. The goal was to gradually unveil the story of Solo Shadow leading up to launch day while maintaining that initial excitement throughout the campaign.
RK: Wait, so you manually wiped the grid?
RB: Yep. Wiping the grid was a manual and tedious process—the team archived every single post (over 1,300) in less than 24 hours! Then about a month after launch, we had to do it all over again, unarchiving each post one by one to restore all of our original content.
RK: Wow. How did your audience respond to the teasers and build up? There was a lot of fun content in the lead up to the release!
RB: Anticipating how content will resonate is always a bit of a mystery, even after weeks of careful planning. I vividly recall the night before we kicked off the tease, feeling incredibly nervous and excited. Our team was all up super early the following day, firing questions back and forth, questioning every last detail until the content finally went live.
Once the content started rolling out, the response was nothing short of incredible. During phase zero of tease, we received an outpouring of support with over 27,000 likes, 900 comments, and 2,500 shares on Instagram in just one day. Our audience resonated with the mood board content and were clearly excited about the narrative unfolding.
The next tease phase is where we officially announced Solo Shadow and the “why” behind launching it—this was the first time our audience saw the packaging, shade lineup, and previews of the application. The response again surpassed our expectations, garnering over 86,000 likes, 1,500 comments, and 6,000 shares. We thought it couldn’t get any better—then we went viral on TikTok.
RK: Right, so I have to ask about this video. It felt social-first, luxurious, and shareable. A rare combo! How did it come about?
RB: Believe it or not, this video wasn’t what we initially had planned for our final tease post. We shot another video, but after seeing the response and the strong engagement around the previous posts we decided we could do better—so we pivoted.
I attribute the video’s success to two key elements: the low-fi visual representation/behind-the-scenes glimpses into Solo Shadow’s conception, and the narrated “thesis” statement, which added depth. Interestingly, both aspects organically evolved outside the realm of social.
Moodboards aren’t new for MERIT—the brand was actually launched with a physical mood board and an Instagram account called @_____mood back in 2020. Recognizing the need for a fresh approach, we tried to think outside the box. That’s where the binder came in—we called it Moodboard 2.0.
The binder wasn’t planned—it materialized as a collection of brand processes featuring aspects like shade development, product name iterations, and visual references, all integral to Solo Shadow’s conception. My role primarily involved putting all the pieces together and bringing the binder and video concept to life, but it really is a great representation of how collaborative our team is—nearly every department contributed to make it possible.
As for the narrated "thesis" statement, it was actually never intended to be public-facing. Our team writes one of these for all our major launches—it’s essentially our storytelling north star for a campaign, but it isn’t normally something we share. The thesis for Solo Shadow, however, did such a great job of capturing the emotion at the heart of the launch, so we decided to take a chance and use it in lieu of more traditional narration.
The video went viral on Tiktok almost instantly—garnering over one million views in 24 hours.
RK: I love that insight of taking an internal-facing thesis and turning it into VO. How did the product perform, generally, once out in the world? Were you able attribute any success to social?
RB: The consumer response to Solo Shadow matched the social enthusiasm, which was really exciting to see. The product accumulated a 12,000 person waitlist in less than a week, which is our biggest to-date for a single product.
All the buzz on social also led to Solo Shadow selling incredibly well in our early access period, when the product was only available to those who signed up for the waitlist or subscribe to our emails—we sold a Solo Shadow or Brush No. 2 (the corresponding brush) every two seconds on early access day, which beat out our last biggest early access launch by nearly 10x. It had a similarly strong performance on Sephora—Solo Shadow was the #1 collection on Sephora the week of launch, and continues to be a top eyeshadow product on their site and in-store.
RK: That’s amazing. What are three tips you have for brands that are launching a product and want to make it a *moment*?
A successful launch is rarely about telling or showing one story—but exploring and creating a world with many pillars of storytelling and content.
The best moments on social are the ones that happen organically throughout the storytelling process.
As a brand, you can’t be afraid to throw out the rule book and go against the grain. As a team, you have to constantly push yourself to iterate and make each moment better than the last.
Thank you so much for reading today’s interview! In case you missed Tuesday’s Logged On send for paid subscribers, it was a loooong list of recent trends on brand social. Like realistic ads, clearing the feed, Shrek, private communities, face filters, the SSENSE-ification of Instagram, nerding out, fake newspapers, and so much more. Read it here.
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