This week, we’re looking at what brands are up to for Coachella. Also:
- Remembering makeup artist AJ Crimson
- Johnson & Johnson’s “bankrupt” subsidiaries
- KKW Fragrance’s rebrand
After its two-year hiatus due to the ongoing pandemic, Coachella is back — and so are the brands.
Fashion and beauty brands are getting on board with in-person activations around Coachella this year, albeit in fewer numbers than pre-pandemic times. Although Coachella brand activations were already in decline in 2019 as campaigns became a pricier investment, several are still powering through in hopes of tapping into the return of live music and the massive social engagement festivals can generate.
“We felt optimistic about the return to live events, and we saw it trending that way,” said Lindsay Leaf, evp for experiential and brand marketing at Bustle Digital Group. The group is hosting two events for its media brands The Zoe Report and Nylon, both of which it acquired in 2019. On the first weekend of the music festival, from April 15-17, the company is helping The Zoe Report bring back its “Zoeasis” satellite Coachella event, which was first held in 2015. The company will also introduce the Nylon House activation to Coachella for the first time.
Consumer demand for festival season is high. Coachella sold out before it even posted its lineup, while Lollapalooza was sold out even during the rise of the Delta variant in the summer of 2021.
The social media engagement generated from brand activations can be massive. On the first weekend of Coachella, the largest fashion influencer satellite event — Revolve’s annual Revolve Festival — is making its comeback this year with a to-be-named musical lineup. In 2019, the event generated over 2 billion social impressions thanks to performances from artists including Cardi B and SZA, as well as celebrity and influencer attendees such as Kendall Jenner.
“As with many other initiatives, we had to move forward as if it would be a ‘go’” when the retailer began planning the event in 2021, said Raissa Gerona, chief brand officer of Revolve. For the event, actress Peyton List’s new makeup brand Pley Beauty, which has an exclusive retail agreement with Revolve, will be creating complimentary beauty looks for event attendees.
Zoeasis, previously a nighttime party, will be a daytime event taking place in the afternoon on the first weekend of Coachella this year. It will be focused on wellness and held at a private estate near the music festival. Fashion brand activations at Zoeasis will include Express, which will feature a style lounge giving a sneak peek of a collection designed by Rachel Zoe. As for beauty inclusion, European Wax Center will have a brow bar and treat guests to brow shaping, while Keys Soulcare will host a meditative tent area with bracelet-making.
Nylon House, first held at Art Basel Miami, will be an after-hours event at the same estate with an exclusive guest list of celebrities and influencers. The event will be sponsored by luxury leather goods brand MCM, which will have a branded DJ booth. DJ Peggy Gou will headline while wearing an MCM look, while there will be branded video content playing during the sets. E.l.f. Cosmetics will be on hand to apply beauty looks to the guests.
“Coachella is one of the big cultural events which creates immense brand visibility for MCM. We can reach such a diverse audience from all walks of life, ages, and interests,”said Dirk Schönberger, the global creative officer for MCM.
Many beauty labels are wary of investing in in-person activations this year, instead opting to showcase festival looks on social media or offer festival season promos. Beauty brands that have activated at Coachella in years past but are not doing so this year include YSL Beauty and Too Faced. Too Faced is instead opting to offer a special site discount of 30% during the week of Coachella. For fashion, official Coachella partners include Adidas, H&M and Ray-Ban. No beauty brands are listed this year, although Victoria’s Secret Pink is named as a sponsor with a link to its body-care line on Coachella’s partners’ page.
Other brands are opting to keep their Coachella promos online. Glamnetic, for example, has a curated festival page on its site and is doing Coachella bundles of nails and lashes with names such as “Festival Season” and “Indio Ready.”
All-virtual Coachella promotions were initially an adaptation to the pandemic. In 2020, NYX Professional Makeup — Coachella’s official beauty sponsor in 2019 — opted to throw a virtual Coachella livestreaming series on Instagram when the event was canceled. This year, the brand is back to IRL promotion, hosting creators and offering eye look applications at a physical event.
“Some brands are more confident than others to take that leap” of signing on for an in-person music festival promotion, said Leaf. “But people are becoming more confident as they see more events happening and the consumer appetite for them.”
Even with fewer brands activating, heavy demand for venues coupled with inflation means a Coachella event is a big investment.
Locking down event venues was “very competitive this year,” said Leaf. “Consumer demand for the return to live experiential means things may be more expensive, but the value and the return on investment are there, as well.”
Rather than flower crowns and boho looks that were still around even in the 2019 iteration of the event, brands are opting for a new festival aesthetic this year. Bustle Digital Group is “leaning into that ‘Euphoria’ look,” said Leaf. For example, glitter eyebrows will be offered at the brow bar.
Pley Beauty, which sells several sheets of “Euphoria”-style face gems, is launching a new “Love Child” festival collection as part of its activation.
“We will offer complimentary gem applications of Pley Things face and body gems, that are customized to each individual to complement your festival look,” said Laura Staves, general manager of Pley Beauty.
MCM, meanwhile, is emphasizing “bright colors and vibrant prints,” said Schönberger.
“There is such diversity now — Y2K style is making a comeback in ready-to-wear and classic, natural beauty looks [are trending] for evening,” said Gerona.
As the Omicron variant spread showed, there is still a risk of Covid-related cancelations for any brand investing in a big event. Officials in Los Angeles are keeping an eye on the BA.2 variant as Covid cases are no longer declining in L.A. County.
“We are accustomed to cancelations, and it’s all about how we adapt now,” said Gerona. “We made sure to handle planning this festival delicately, knowing that anything can happen and we need to be prepared for it.”
In the event of a hypothetical cancelation, reimbursement is harder these days than in the early days of the pandemic. “In the very beginning, there was more willingness to say, ‘OK, here’s your money back,’ or ‘We’ll do it another time,’” said Leaf. Now, the venues are “also needing to protect themselves.”
“Everything is expensive,” said Leaf. “There are more challenges right now, but those who are able to pull it off will also reap all the rewards, and it will be well worth it.”
Inside our coverage
What Ulta Beauty is looking for in up-and-coming brands. As the retailer announces its new Sparked brands today, its director of emerging brands tells us what it’s looking for in new indie brand partners.
Announcing Glossy’s Influencer Index research report. Introducing original research with in-depth data analysis on who’s driving engagement on Instagram and why.
Mountaineer, artist, chef: Meet the new class of beauty influencers.
NuFace announces a new CEO.
What we’re reading
Remembering makeup artist AJ Crimson. The beauty world is mourning the loss of celebrity makeup artist AJ Crimson, who passed away on March 30. Known for his makeup artistry on films including “The Hunger Games” and “Black Panther,” he worked with many celebrity clients over the years including Estelle, Brandy, Missy Elliott, Regina King, Christina Milian, Hilary Duff and Angela Bassett. He recently completed a job as the makeup artist for the upcoming “Black Panther” film, “Wakanda Forever.” His beauty brand AJ Crimson Beauty was launched in 2013 with a focus on women of color and entered Nordstrom in May 2021. Following the news of his death, there was an outpouring of tributes to him on social media from beauty and entertainment figures including Beyonce’s makeup artist Sir John, makeup artist Danessa Myricks, actor Bresha Webb, Milian and countless others.
How Johnson & Johnson is using bankruptcy courts to avoid payouts from asbestos baby powder lawsuits. Owing $3.5 billion in jury verdicts and settlements from lawsuits over asbestos in its baby powder, Johnson & Johnson has funneled the lawsuits into a new “bankrupt” subsidiary. It will be decided in bankruptcy courts whether Johnson & Johnson — which is certainly not bankrupt as it has a market cap of $464 billion as of the time of filing — will have to pay. NPR spoke to one woman with mesothelioma who was suing the company — she recently passed away. The case remains in legal limbo.