For the first time, nail polish brand Essie is participating in Pride month to show the brand aligns with modern customer values, like inclusivity and diversity.
Essie’s Pride activation centers around a digital campaign featuring Jonathan Van Ness, cast member of the Netflix show “Queer Eye.” On June 7, Essie will begin rolling out photo content and videos related to Pride month with photos on Instagram and tutorials on Pinterest every Friday. The campaign will also be distributed across the brand’s social platforms, Facebook and Twitter, as well as on Essie.com. Though the campaign will feature four nail designs (a marble, ombre, tie-dye and abstract rainbow look) and tutorial guides, the goal is not to sell or push product, said Greg Hui, vp of Essie. Essie will also participate in Pride events throughout June: At The Ali Forney Center’s annual LGBTQ prom event in New York City, it will provide free manicures to attendees. In addition, it will offer free polish samples at New York City’s Pride Parade and the charity event We Party held at the Javits Center. No other influencers are involved.
Essie specifically wanted to work with a non-female spokesperson for its campaign to visually demonstrate its inclusivity message, said Hui. Although Essie does not have data on how many male customers it has, the brand has learned anecdotally through salon partners that more men are getting their nails done with and without polish.
“There is no one way to do beauty anymore. It used to be pushing out what the trend is, and [putting people] into a mold or a particular look. Now it’s about embracing individuality and not seeing that as an isolating point. We also want to embrace our differences and commonalities,” he said.
Additionally, while many brands release Pride products or limited-edition collections for Pride, Essie opted not to do so in order to lend greater authenticity to its campaign, said Hui.
“We don’t want to limit people to a collection of Pride colors, because we don’t want anyone to think this is a once-a-year product. It’s an everyday, yearlong thing,” he said. “Essie didn’t plan to launch a Pride collection because we don’t want to be seen as taking advantage of a cultural moment.”
Ever since the September 2017 launch of Fenty Beauty, which offers 40 foundation shades, the beauty industry has been grappling with the demands and expectations of its consumers to be more inclusive. Pride has been particularly fruitful for color cosmetics, since it’s easier to translate via their products. Brands like Urban Decay and Winky Lux have already released Pride makeup products for June 2019.
“Occasions like Pride Month and Women’s History Month serve as important reminders to take that inclusive approach,” said Tomer Tagrin, CEO of marketing consultancy firm Yotpo. “However, the bottom line is that if companies don’t demonstrate the same commitment year-round, stunting around these special events will be perceived as inauthentic and will diminish the brand.”
L’Oréal-owned brand Essie is included in the umbrella company’s corporate Beauty for All mission, which is focused on making the company more accessible and also adding 1 billion consumers around the world by creating products that meet every type of customer’s beauty needs and desires. Essie does not currently have any other specific campaigns planned around inclusivity or diversity, Hui said. Adding Pride is “just the beginning” for the brand.
“[Beauty] shouldn’t be limited to a select number of people. Whether it’s gender, age, sexual orientation or ethnicity, we want to be inclusive and have everyone participate in the [Essie] conversation,” said Hui.