The face filter phenomenon

Face filters have taken off on Instagram this year, with brands from Louis Vuitton to Nando’s jumping on the trend. Here, We Are Social’s Executive Creative Director Gareth Leeding highlights some innovative examples – and offers some words of advice for advertisers

Which Disney Princess are you? How would you look on the cover of Vogue magazine? Are you Nando’s Lemon & Herb or Extra Hot?

The people have questions and as always, the internet has provided answers. This time, in the form of face filters. And they are everywhere.


Given their recent proliferation on Instagram, you’d be forgiven for thinking that face filters are a new phenomenon. In the last few months, we’ve seen the likes of Nando’s, Louis Vuitton, EA Sports and our own client, Adidas, creating custom filters. Social media is now awash with every type imaginable, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Face filters were originally one of Snapchat’s USPs, but Instagram launched its own version in 2017. In 2018, it opened the feature up to creators, before letting brands into the space a year later. It’s taken a while to get the ball rolling, but as of this year, momentum has well and truly picked up, and we’re seeing new filters arrive every day.


The face filter phenomenon is driven by creatives – from 3D artists to designers, illustrators and digital creatives who’ve used the tool to create some fun and surprising effects.