Cheekbone Beauty wins $1 million in media inventory in first IDEA competition

Indigenous-owned Canadian beauty brand Cheekbone Beauty is getting a $1-million media boost after winning the first Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity in Advertising competition.

Created by the Institute of Communication Agencies in partnership with Bell Media, the competition was created to recognize one advertising campaign that demonstrates a clear message of diversity and inclusion. As the winner, Cheekbone receives $1 million worth of media inventory on Bell Media properties.

Cheekbone won with a campaign concept by Sid Lee called “Right the Story.” The creative—which is being developed by the agency now, with hopes for a fall reveal—involves blocking out negative headlines about Indigenous communities to focus attention on positive news about defiance that help to “right the story” of Indigenous people in the media.

Entries had to be new creative in English and French, and required that diverse talent contribute behind the camera (producers, directors, writers, and crew). Entrants also had to demonstrate that inclusion and diversity are components across all of their advertising. The focus for the inaugural competition was on campaigns highlighting Indigenous communities.

“Congratulations to Cheekbone Beauty and Sid Lee on this well-deserved win, which magnifies the essence of the campaign’s double entendre ‘Right the Story,'” said Bell Media’s Brandon Moonrei, director of DSP partnerships and client strategy, in a release. “Behind this positive headline is an Indigenous-owned beauty brand that celebrates and supports diversity, inclusion and equity in every aspect of its business.”

Cheekbone founder Jennifer Harper started the company in 2016 with a goal to help Indigenous youth see themselves in a beauty brand. The company makes high-quality, cruelty-free products like liquid lipsticks and complexion products.

“I started Cheekbone Beauty for several reasons. I grew up feeling ashamed of who I was and where I came from. I never want any youth to feel this way,” said  Harper, who appeared on Dragon’s Den in 2019 but turned down an offer of $125,000 for 50% of the company.

“Within the beauty space there did not seem to be any brands highlighting Indigenous faces,” she said. “Knowing this industry has massive margins, it was also an opportunity to do good while creating a new business.”

Cheekbone has donated more than $108,000 to a variety of Indigenous causes, and last year launched Sustain, a “less-waste line” of lipsticks, with zero-waste goals for 2023.

“The purpose and ambition shown in the entries made judging very hard and at times emotional, which is exactly what we wanted—the agencies and brands put everything into it,” said Scott Knox, president and CEO, ICA, in the release.

“I have no doubt that seeing the final campaign delivered by Sid Lee and Cheekbone Beauty will set a new standard, not only for diversity in marketing but excellence in authentic brand building. I’m also sure we’ll see the other entries come to life too.”

David Brown