- NYX Professional Makeup is taking its Pride celebrations into the metaverse this year with a “Paint Your Own Story” campaign, according to a news release.
- On June 24, the brand will host a virtual pride parade on The Sandbox decentralized gaming platform, trotting out digital avatars inspired by its range of makeup shades and intended to embody the diversity of the LGBTQ community. The activation was developed with The Sandbox and People of Crypto Lab (POC), an organization aimed at increasing representation in the Web3 space.
- The company is also showing up in its hometown of Los Angeles with a month of real-world activities. The blend of digital and physical elements in NYX’s campaign is indicative of how marketers are adopting hybrid strategies as they adjust to a new pandemic landscape.
NYX is flying its Pride flag in the metaverse as brands continue to experiment with virtual experiences that can reach a wide audience. The cosmetics marketer is the first in its category to integrate with The Sandbox, but follows other companies in leveraging Web3 tools as a means to encourage self-expression.
In this case, the brand is linking its products to the array of stripes in the LGBTQ community, with the goal of highlighting how makeup has no gender. The campaign includes a drop of 8,430 nonfungible token (NFT) avatars that incorporate over 36 skin shades and aim to encompass every ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity. NYX will donate 100% of the NFT proceeds to the Los Angeles LGBT Center up to a $50,000 total. It first started working with the organization in 2020 with the launch of its Proud Allies for All platform and has given $150,000 to date.
The metaverse still carries thorny questions around brand safety and privacy. But the relatively free-form nature of the channel is increasingly a front where marketers see an opportunity to forward diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. This concept appears to resonate with Gen Z, a group that shows a strong preference for gaming and is more diverse than older generations. POC and The Sandbox together are introducing what they claim is the first metaverse DEI hub, called “The Valley of Belonging,” on June 24 as part of Pride.
The effort's real-world activities include mural painting with artist Seth Bogart, a partnership with TikTok creator Saucy Santana and a public drag show on June 9 in Heart West Hollywood.
Retailers like Gap and American Eagle have set up shop in Roblox with a mission of getting users to outfit their avatars in styles that represent their true selves. Absolut Vodka, the spirits label under Pernod Ricard, created a metaverse pop-up for Coachella in April that had a rainbow-themed Pride room.
Marketers frequently tailor messages for Pride as they view LGBTQ consumers as an appealing target demographic. This has led to accusations of what’s called Rainbow Capitalism, where companies cynically market to marginalized groups during one month of the year and then largely ignore them otherwise. The industry has made moves to address this phenomenon with more consistent and in-depth campaigns and programs, but may feel pressure to step up this year as LGBTQ rights again come under fire in the U.S.
Florida recently passed legislation, called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, that seeks to restrict discussions of LGBTQ issues in schools — just one among a number of state bills aimed at the community. A leaked Supreme Court draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade has also raised concerns that other rulings — namely Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015 — could be in peril.