Why Milani Cosmetics Is Enjoying Sports activities

Milani is getting into the brand-building game.

The affordable cosmetics label, known as an alternative for prestige beauty products, announced Thursday it is rolling out a new campaign, its first featuring celebrity spokespeople. Called “Face Set, Mind Set,” the campaign stars WNBA player Sabrina Ionescu, gymnast Jordan Chiles, volleyball star Chiaka Ogbogu and weightlifting champion Mattie Rogers. It highlights Milani’s Make It Last Setting Spray, a top-selling SKU. Casting top female athletes is meant to underscore the product’s performance.

It’s a “big investment” for the brand, which has never enlisted traditional celebrities as campaign stars before. Milani rose to fame on TikTok, where users recommended its products as lower-priced dupes of favourites like Patrick Ta’s Major Headlines Double Take Creme and Powder Blush Duo and Charlotte Tilbury’s Beauty Highlighter Wand. Now, it’s intent is to build its brand for a wider audience.

Though it’s run traditional advertising campaigns in the past, the “Face Set, Mind Set” campaign is its most high-profile effort yet, said Mary Van Praag, Milani chief executive. Milani has generated over $200 million in retail sales and has logged 10 consecutive quarters of growth, according to the company. (The campaign will run via ads on streaming platforms as well as on the athletes’ owned social channels; Milani will also run influencer activations and in-store promotions in conjunction with the campaign.)

The timing is fitting for a sports-centric campaign: The Paris Olympics, of course, are less than two months away. But women’s sports are also having a moment in the spotlight: 24 million people watched this year’s NCAA women’s basketball championship game, breaking the record for the most-watched basketball game since the start of the pandemic.

“Sports are certainly a cultural moment because of the Olympics, but beyond that, [attention to] women’s sports is rising,” said Van Praag. The brand, which sells at Ulta Beauty and CVS, hopes that tapping into women’s sports’ “unprecedented levels of success and visibility,” will lend engagement to their label as well.

Indeed, Milani is just the latest beauty label to tap female athletes as spokespeople. In March, L’Oréal Paris named Australian footballer Mary Fowler as a brand ambassador, and digital beauty darling Glossier and hair care label Mielle have served the WNBA’s beauty partners since 2020 and 2023, respectively.

“Women, historically, would never show up in full face makeup to whatever their competition was,” said Jeremy Lowenstein, Milani’s chief marketing officer. “It’s become more and more accepted for them to show up as they want to be seen. Makeup is a huge part of that.”

Milani in particular wanted to work with athletes because of their relatability, according to Lowenstein.

“Everyone grows up doing something that is probably athletic and athletics is very broad, from power walking to dancing,” he said.

For Olympic medalist Chiles, the partnership was seamless. Adding that beauty is integral to her own athletic career; she has been doing her own hair and makeup for her gymnastic events for years. New York Liberty guard Ionescu said that while she doesn’t “usually wear makeup,” the brand’s message of inclusivity resonated with her. (Van Praag says Milani is designated as a multicultural brand in its retailers because of its extensive shade range.)

Milani plans to continue its marketing activations in the sports world beyond the Olympics. The brand’s strategy is to “make the most of big moments and viral trends,” said Van Praag.

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