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  • Sara Spruch-Feiner

Glossy Pop Newsletter: E.l.f. Beauty’s mockumentary taps into Gen Z’s love of makeup and true crime

On January 9, E.l.f. Beauty released a 15-minute short film on Amazon Freevee and YouTube called “Cosmetic Criminals.” Then on January 12, when it began playing before the movie “Mean Girls” in select AMC theaters, it became the longest branded content spot to ever run on the big screen, according to National CineMedia, the largest cinema advertising platform in the U.S.


“Cosmetic Criminals” is a mockumentary, for which the brand tapped the Oscar- and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Alex Buono — known for his work on the Netflix show “Russian Doll” and the TV mockumentary “Documentary Now!” — to direct. It cast Niecy Nash-Betts, Nelson Franklin and Necar Zadegan, among others, to star in the short film.


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