Milani Cosmetics has taken a side in the ongoing libel lawsuit between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Yes, Milani Cosmetics, a drugstore cosmetics brand, has waded into a lawsuit currently being argued in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia that does not directly concern the brand.
On Thursday, the brand’s TikTok posted a 15-second video set to the app’s popular audio clip from The Backyardigan’s song “International Super Spy.” The video uses clips from the trial, showing someone holding up a Milani Cosmetics concealer palette, and alleges that Heard carried this color corrector concealer palette with her “FOR THE ENTIRE RELATIONSHIP.” (Court filings show the relationship began at the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012, after Depp broke up with his longterm partner Vanessa Paradis. Depp and Heard were married in 2015 and Heard later filed for divorce in May 2016.)
In a case where domestic violence allegations are being volleyed back and forth, the use of a concealer by legal counsel to make a point seems almost expected. Of course, as brands are wont to do, Milani Cosmetics used the moment as an advertising opportunity and took their inclusion at the trial to their brand’s TikTok page. The TikTok turns this prop (it’s unclear if this was entered into evidence or used as an example by counsel) into its own Zapruder film to discredit Heard.
The video implores the viewer to pause to read the company’s own little investigation: “Take note: alleged abuse was around 2014-2016, got divorced 2016, makeup palette release date: December 2017.” It then cuts to a hallway with Milani posters (headquarters, perhaps?) where a young women walks with a product catalog before showing us a powerpoint slide (seen at the top of this piece). According to the video’s screenshot, the Milani Conceal + Perfect All in One Correcting Kit (Item code MPCC-05) was released in 2017—presumably meaning it couldn’t have been in Heard’s makeup case for the time when she alleges it was.
Ending with a manicured finger tapping 2017, the video concludes by zooming in on the year all while a cartoon voice sings, “There’s one thing you can expect from me, and that’s the unexpected... cause I’m an international...super spy. Super spy!”
Let’s make one thing abundantly clear: Brands do not have to do this. I know it’s hard out there in the content mines, but wading into a trial where intimate partner violence is at the heart of it all is a bold and aggressive way to try to make a high-profile trial about your brand. I would even argue that brands do not have to take a side in celebrity litigation—even if they are mentioned.
Not since the missing person-turned-murder case of Gabby Petito has TikTok turned into a place where the FYP (“For You Page”) is flush with videos from a trial. TikTok is an app where the algorithm is king, but using a non-trending sound to make a 15-second clip about a libel trial? Not now, Milani social media team!
Jezebel reached out to Milani Cosmetics and will update if any response is given.