Every so often a company makes a mistake. Sometimes it’s a big one.
This is not one of those situations.
Knowing what I know – more of which later – this is not a ‘mistake‘.
This is SUCH a badly thought out campaign that I am, in all honesty, stunned that it has come out of the Lauder (who own MAC) camp.
The new MAC collection is ‘inspired’ by the factory town of Juarez, Mexico. The very same town that the name ‘femicide’ was derived from. What has been going on there for so many years is SO horrific that they gave it its very own name.
What in the name of sanity is INSPIRING about the rape, torture, mutilation and murder of over 400 women (official figures from the Mexican Government – the real figure is estimated to be in the thousands by support groups) I DO NOT KNOW.
These girls/women range in age from 12-22 (in general) and work in the factories of Juarez and Chihuahua. They work insane shifts for about £3.00 a day. The majority of them also have to walk to work in the factories – at all times of the day but usually at night.
And the problem is that a lot of them do not make it home. I would encourage you to read more about it here from Amnesty International. And even here from the most basic of all googled files – wikipedia.
So here’s the issue:
The new MAC/Rodarte campaign has lines called Factory, Juarez, Ghost Town and Badlands to name a few. In context, this is about as sensitive as Toys R Us releasing a line of toy guns and calling them ‘Columbine’ and ‘Dunblane’. That would never happen – we would, quite rightly, be in uproar at the commercialisation of horrific murders of children and teachers.
Why oh why did MAC and Estee Lauder not apply that same sense of outrage to the deaths of thousands of lower-working class Mexican girls and women. Maybe I just answered my own question. If these killings were going on in East Hampton or Los Angeles or Palm Beach they would never have even considered it. For. A. Second.
My real fury/shock/sheer unbelievability about this range is this: I know how long it takes to bring something to market.
And how many people are involved.
Most brands are currently finalising Fall or Xmas 2011. Beauty works more in advance than fashion – and that is saying something.
This means that around 18 months – 2 years ago, a group of NPD (new product development – probably about 5-10 people) sat around a table with a group from marketing (in a company of MAC’s size – probably around 15-20 people) and said ‘We’ve been asked to do a collaboration with Rodarte based around Juarez in Mexico.’
And someone said ‘Excellent idea!’
They would have signed off a critical path, added the range to their budgets and forecasts for the last quarter of this year, instructed the labs to provide samples, ordered the art department to do mock-ups of visuals, presented the new lines to ‘senior management’ – who would have to have approved everything, gone in to production, given samples to long-lead press about 4/5 months ago and trained their sales teams at conferences earlier this year.
AND AT NO POINT DID ANY ONE OF THESE PEOPLE – especially in Marketing and Design – say: ‘Hang on, where is Juarez? Let me just google that….’
and then say ‘Guys, you know what? I’m not sure this is a good idea. Have you actually read about Juarez?’
This line has been a long time in the making.
This is not a mistake. This is a long thought-out campaign – with very little actual thought behind it. People in those departments would have researched the background/area/stories extensively before mocking up suggested visuals of the colour lines and presenting them to the powers that be for approval. People at MAC KNEW the situation in Juarez and Chihuahua before this even got past the initial NPD stage. And yet they proceeded. Absolutely gob-smackingly baffling.
These are the real faces of Juarez:
Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Minnie Driver, Eve Ensler and Jennifer Lopez have all been involved in trying to raise the profile of what is going on in Juarez over the last 15+ years.
So what are MAC to do?
Well, their PR machine is in overdrive:
STATEMENT FROM RODARTE ON THE M•A•C AND RODARTE COLLECTION
Our makeup collaboration with M•A•C developed from inspirations on a road trip that we took in Texas last year, from El Paso to Marfa.
The ethereal nature of this landscape influenced the creative development and desert palette of the collection.
We are truly saddened about injustice in Juarez and it is a very important issue to us.
The M•A•C collaboration was intended as a celebration of the beauty of the landscape and people in the areas that we traveled.
Fashion. Seriously. Bite me.
STATEMENT FROM M•A•C COSMETICS ON THE M•A•C RODARTE COLLECTION
We understand that product names in the M•A•C Rodarte collection have offended some of our consumers and fans.
This was never our intent and we are very sorry. We are listening carefully to the comments posted and are grateful to those of you who have brought your concerns to the forefront of our attention. M•A•C will give a portion of the proceeds from the M•A•C Rodarte collection to help those in need in Juarez. We are diligently investigating the best way to do this. Please be assured that we will keep you posted on the details regarding our efforts.
Please. Spare me.
This is not the time to dress it up and call us consumers (to distance themselves) and fans (to soften us up).
We are people and customers. Customers. THAT is why MAC have sat up and paid attention. This is a wealthy company. MAC’s number 1 door in the UK turns over around £4.5 million a year. ONE outlet. £86538 a week. £12363 a day. £1236 a working hour.
‘We are dilligently investigating the best way to do this.’
It’s not rocket science. MAC know what they should do.
I realise it is too late to pull the line – and now that it is actually raising awareness of the issue – albeit in a way they may have preferred to avoid – I’m not sure it would do any good.
What they could do is say ‘fair enough – we screwed up. How can we fix this?’
What you can do is give 100% of your net profits to a group that supports the families that are trying to give this cause the recognition it deserves – someone like Amnesty International or one of the numerous groups actually working in Mexico with the families of the victims.
Promote the cause all across your counters and stores and raise awareness. You have it in your power to do this.
You can afford it.
You do not need the money.
I’m not the only one. Beauty bloggers have come together in an unprecedented way and are posting about this issue simultaneously both here in the UK, in Australia, Europe and in the USA.
Please read their posts – each has a different take on the subject and all are brilliantly researched and thought out.
Something MAC could learn from.
MAC and Estee Lauder are responsible for some AMAZING campaigns in the industry. Evelyn Lauder I believe, is singularly responsible for the phenomenal way the beauty industry got behind, and continues to support, Breast Cancer.
I cannot believe that this sits comfortably with them.
Now is the time for MAC and Estee Lauder to pool their incomparable resources of people, money and power – and remedy this very bad wrong.
*Update – since this posted the number of bloggers that have taken part has reached well over 100. This amazing group of people who all pulled together can be found here.