The 2021 ESSENCE Festival of Culture Presented by Coca-Cola® Set to Feature Branded Activations During Virtual Experiences

Offering World-Class Virtual Consumer Activations by Festival Partners Coca-Cola®, Estée Lauder, Ford, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble (P&G), Walmart and More!

July 01, 2021 06:33 PM Eastern Daylight Time

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The 2021 ESSENCE Festival of Culture Presented by Coca-Cola® unveils invigorating branded experiences for this year’s virtual ESSENCE Festival of Culture. Taking place across two weekends, the virtual Festival is offering world-class consumer activations curated by corporate partners including presenting sponsor Coca-Cola® , and major sponsors Estée Lauder, Ford, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Walmart, as well as premium sponsors AT&T, Disney and UnitedHealthcare. This year’s Festival branded experiences are featured across two weekends—June 25-27 and July 2-4—all streaming on Visit here to learn more about the full festival programming and top brand activations, which include:


Coca-Cola® will show up for the 26th year as Presenting Sponsor of the Essence Festival of Culture.

For the second year in a row, Coca-Cola® will show up at the highly anticipated virtual festival and continue the tradition of engaging with diverse audiences through uplifting and positive cultural experiences. Coca-Cola® will lean into programming around “If Not for My Girls”, developed in partnership with Essence. Created three years ago as a platform honoring and celebrating the very special bond of sisterhood that Black women have with their girlfriends, Coca-Cola®will show up again with uplifting and fun moments at this year’s virtual festival.


Estée Lauder returns as a proud sponsor for its third consecutive year at EssenceFest. This year, the brand continues its commitment to amplifying voices with marquee guests in beauty, tv, film and dermatology.


Ford is dedicated to building a better world, where every person is free to move and pursue their dreams. Returning for the 13th consecutive year as the exclusive automotive sponsor, Ford will empower and celebrate Black women with inspiring panels, engaging 360-degree vehicle experiences and lots of fun. Festival goers can register for a chance to win the vehicle of their choice in the ESSENCE Festival Ford Vehicle Giveaway by visiting


For the fourth year in a row, Johnson & Johnson is proud to be a sponsor of the Essence Festival of Culture™ and support efforts to provide Black women with tools and resources to address their unique health needs. At Johnson & Johnson, we aspire to help eradicate racial and social injustice as a public health threat by eliminating health inequities for people of color. As an organization, we have pledged a $100 million over the next five years to invest in and promote health equity solutions. During the Essence Festival of Culture™, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health brands -AVEENO®, NEUTROGENA® and TYLENOL®- will provide attendees with insightful well-being solutions and memorable conversations over the two back-to-back weekends on vital topics such as skincare, self-care, as well as maternal and heart health.


In its 21st year of partnership, McDonald’s will show the power of Black women in business through an entrepreneurship panel discussion on Saturday, July 3. The panel, titled Women Entrepreneurs Reimagining our Future and Building our Legacy, will be an illuminating conversation about owning your power, knowing your worth, designing your career, and creating a lasting legacy. Sharing stories of and contributing to Black excellence is the cornerstone of McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden movement and its long-standing commitment to support the Black community and empower the next generation. Join in and follow the movement @wearegolden on Instagram and be sure to join the conversation on July 3.


My Black Is Beautiful, a community-building platform powered by P&G, has celebrated 14 years at ESSENCE Festival with a signature beauty experience. As a major sponsor, P&G along with My Black is Beautiful, Olay, Gold Series from Pantene and Crest are connecting in new and familiar ways across the virtual experience, driving conversation around beauty trends, and racial equity and inclusion in the industry.


Walmart is a proud participant of ESSENCE Festival of Culture for the 13th consecutive year, celebrating and empowering Black women and men through a variety of content that showcases our commitment to diversity and inclusion, wellness, and recruitment. Stay tuned for our career segment featuring some of Walmart’s very own leaders as well as Self.Centered.—a series exploring the fresh new ways Black women are redefining & trailblazing self-care. To learn more about Walmart’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity, visit here:


AT&T is a proud returning sponsor of the Essence Festival connecting attendees with memorable Dream in Black experiences that empower. You won’t want to miss as AT&T Black Future Makers and iconic talent come together for engaging panels, a community give back, celebrity meet and greets and a joyous celebration of the culture. Learn more about AT&T Dream in Black at and join the conversation on social media using hashtag #DreamInBlack.


GEICO is proud to partner with Essence Festival of Culture 2021. Through their ability to authentically connect and engage with African American women from around the globe, Essence provides diverse storytelling and content that aligns with GEICO’s commitment to education, community engagement, equity and inclusion. We look forward to an exciting and empowering virtual experience.


This year, The Walt Disney Company returns as a sponsor of the annual festival and is available to watch online via Essence Studios within Entertainment All Access on Saturday, 06/26 and Saturday, 07/03 from 5 – 7 PM ET. Those participating from Disney include Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Studios, Disney+, ABC, D23, Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts, Freeform, Hulu, ESPN and The Undefeated.


UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group company, is honored to join The Essence Festival as the supporting partner of the Wellness House – intended to educate, motivate and empower Black women about various ways to engage in wellness and provide resources to prioritize their health. Dr. Cleopatra Lightfoot-Booker, Chief Clinical Operations Leader for Optum, Dr. Julie Morial, Chief Medical Officer with UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Louisiana, and Roxane Battle, Vice President of Community and Advocacy at Sanvello Health—a UnitedHealth Group company providing a behavioral health care solution, will join the incredible lineup of speakers through memorable conversations around mental and maternal health.

In addition, checkout the following stages where ESSENCE brand partners will be showing up:


  • ESSENCE Dear Black Men (6 PM-8 PM):ESSENCE Studios presents Dear Black Men—an all-male summit that salutes the contributions of our brothers who speak vulnerably about their respective experiences as family men, community advocates and leaders of this generation.
  • ESSENCE Festival Verzuz Battle (LIVE at 8 PM-10 PM): It’s official! The battle for the title of R&B king is back on the line—and this time, the 2021 ESSENCE Festival of Culture Presented by Coca-Cola® will feature two of the genre’s icons going head-to-head for the crown in a Verzuz battle to rival the best of them! Watch as none other than Bobby Brown and Keith Sweat step onto the ESSENCE Festival X Verzuz stage and go hit-for-hit in what’s sure to be an epic showdown filled with a host of the R&B classics fans love. It all takes place via, the Triller app and the Verzuz TV Instagram page. Sponsors include: Triller, Verzuz TV, Ciroc, Coca-Cola® and Nike.


  • PITCH, Please! New Voices Pitch Competition (3 PM-4 PM EST): Tune in to PITCH PLEASE!, powered by Pull Up for Change’s Impact Fund and the New Voices Foundation to watch up-and-coming Black women-owned beauty brands make their pitch to change the beauty business game! During this pitch competition, eight Black women founders will compete for cash prizes ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, plus valuable business coaching to launch and execute or grow and scale their beautiful entrepreneurial dreams.
  • Coca-Cola® Juke Joint Kick Off with D-Nice (6/25 ONLY 5:30pm-6pm EST): D-Nice kicks off the party with a set of our favorite songs from New Orleans at the historic Howling Wolf Venue.
  • ESSENCE Beauty Carnival [6 PM-10 PM (ET)]:Enjoy presentations from industry insiders and top brands on makeup, skin, body, and hair care that provide a fresh perspective on caring for and embracing the hair and skin you’re in. Speakers include: Adrienne Houghton, Melyssa Ford, Claudia Jordan, LisaRaye, Supacent, Miss Lawrence, Big Freedia, Demetria Lucas, India.Arie, Tina Knowles and more. Sponsors include: Aveeno, Crest, Estée Lauder, Gold Series, My Black Is Beautiful, Olay and Walmart.
  • ESSENCE Girls United After Dark [10PM-11 PM (ET)]: Tune in for music curated by ESSENCE’s Girls United brought to you by your favorite rising stars. Featuring performances by Raiche, Tiana Major, Tayla Parx, Makenzie and also a world premiere music video by Mumu Fresh.


  • Wealth & Power [1 PM-5 PM (ET)]: Discover how to be an agent of change during this virtual town hall. Topics include tools for investing, business, entrepreneurship, policy, voting and more. Speakers include: June Ambrose, Jemele Hill, Tamika Mallory, New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell, Angela Yee, D-Nice and others. In addition, watch a special segment featuring our Black Female Mayors. Sponsors include: AT&T, American Airlines, Coca-Cola®, Ford, GEICO, Grow with Google, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, P&G, SheaMoisture, Tylenol and Walmart.
  • Entertainment All-Access [5 PM-7 PM (ET)]:Catch your Hollywood faves in Q&A’s and be the first to watch exclusive sneak peeks of the hottest upcoming releases! With appearances by: Gina Torres, Lil Rel, Yvonne Orji, Yandy Smith, Mary J. Blige and more. Sponsors include: ABC, D23, Disney+, ESPN, Fox Entertainment, Freeform, Hulu, Prime Video, Starz, The Undefeated, Tubi, VH1, The Walt Disney Studios & Walt Disney World.


  • ESSENCE Wellness House [10 AM-1 PM (ET)]: A multi-faceted collective of self-care resources for you! Through our curated sessions, you will walk away equipped with the resources to prioritize your nutrition, spirit, relationships, and more. Sponsors include: United Healthcare, AT&T, Bristol Myers Squibb, Ford, GEICO, Neutrogena and Walmart.
  • Get Lifted Gospel Sunday Celebration [1 PM-3 PM (ET)]: Get your spirits lifted as the annual all-star Gospel tribute hits your screen for two Sundays back to back! Tune in for powerful words of praise by your favorite spiritual leaders and music by your favorite gospel artists. Performances by Kirk Franklin & Friends, Israel Houghton and more.

Join this year’s Festival community by following us via social @EssenceFest #EssenceFest. For more information and for the latest news about the 2021 ESSENCE Festival of Culture Presented by Coca-Cola®, visit The ESSENCE Festival of Culture Presented by Coca-Cola® is executive produced by ESSENCE Festivals LLC, a division of ESSENCE Communications Inc. Sponsors of the 2021 ESSENCE Festival of Culture® include presenting sponsor Coca-Cola® and major sponsorsEstée Lauder, Ford, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Walmartas well as premium sponsors AT&T, Disney and UnitedHealthcare.