Milk Makeup

When it comes to event marketing, are protests the next music festivals?

With a host of beauty brands participating in this year’s NYC Pride Parade, one might question if events centered on activism are poised to be socially driven Generation Z’s version of Coachella.

“[We’re seeing that] the younger consumer is much more driven by cause than the previous generations have been,” said Blake Decker, head of marketing at SinfulColors. To target young consumers, the brand has aligned itself with causes that resonate with Millennials and Generation Z, such as LGBT rights and antibullying.

This year, SinfulColors teamed with Era Istrefi, an Albanian pop star — Instagram following: one million — on a limited-edition capsule of rainbow iridescent glitter polishes called the Pride Collection. The collection went on sale earlier this month and sold out within a week on Amazon, forcing the Revlon-owned nail brand to scramble to restock. This is the second year Sinful Colors, which sells primarily in drug retailers and supermarkets, is doing a Pride collection. It will also operate a booth during the NYC Pride Parade, and Istrefi will perform during the parade.

“The brand is truly about self-expression and feeling free to be yourself and doing that through color — with a younger consumer, we looked at what are the things we can work towards that help young women and men feel comfortable expressing themselves,” Decker said.

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For Milk Makeup cofounder Mazdack Rassi, the question of doing a product collaboration for Pride Month was a no-brainer. “We look at it from a cultural point-of-view — it’s something that’s very important for us to fight for, it’s about our city and it’s about educating the rest of the country as well.”

Rassi noted that Milk Studios, the studio and event space that preceded the makeup line, has been supporting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, or “The Center,” as it is commonly referred to since its inception.

“Giving back and supporting Pride for the community has been in our DNA for almost two decades,” Rassi said. “[With Milk Studios], we always give our space for fund-raisers and events, and so many of our friends and employees have benefited from The Center. When I think of The Center, I think of the next generation of people that we work with — our employees, the creatives and models.”

Milk Makeup launched its Glitter Stick — a glitter version of Milk’s signature holographic highlighter — earlier this month, announcing that it would donate half the proceeds of each $30 stick to The Center in New York. The brand collaborated with Snap!!!, The Center’s youth vogueing program, on a 30-second YouTube video announcing the limited-edition product.

Rassi noted that while there are increasing numbers of young consumers that turn out for socially driven events, he had some cautionary words for lines looking to cash in on the day as if it were a music festival or other purely celebratory or entertainment-driven event. “Brands have to be careful and make sure their hearts are in the right place,” Rassi said. “It’s not just a celebration, it’s also a protest and a remembrance.”

Kiehl’s’ participation in Pride dates back 15 years, said Chris Salgardo, the company’s president. This year the brand is encouraging in-store donations benefiting three different LGBT organizations — Hetrick-Martin Institute, The Center and The Ali Forney Center. In Canada, the brand also collaborated on a limited-edition Ultra Facial Moisturizer with musical act Tegan and Sara, benefiting the Tegan and Sara Foundation. “Until we’re all treated equally, Pride is going to be surrounded by a lot of activisim,” Salgardo said. “It’s not just a party, it’s about being visible — we want human rights, too.”

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