Sunday, 18 July 2010

MAC Rodarte Collection - Whose genius idea was THAT?

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.

In brief:

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?'

Come ON.

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:

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.

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.


  1. Excellent post! This is at best ill thought out and at worst offensive, ignorant and mysogynistic of MAC/Rodarte. Like you I can't believe no-one throughout the entire project raised a concern, emperor's new clothes I expect. The only positive from the whole sorry mess is that it has really raised the profile of a little-talked-about issue. Hope MAC take note and rethink their donation stance - all the profits is the least they can do.

    Rachael - myroo skincare

  2. Great post!
    Really interesting to know about how long a collection actually takes to create, like you say this was NO mistake.

    I still don't get how they thought they could get away with it and people wouldn't mind the collection.

    Fee x

  3. The breakdown of the time taken to approve the collection is an interesting read. More than enough time to say "Hold on ..this isn't right".

    Great post!

  4. It might be too late to pull the line... but they can at the VERY LEAST change the shade names which are the most offensive. How hard will it be to stick some new labels on the packages and boxes? In fact I don't care how hard it is. They should do it to try and make a tiny amend for their massive f**k up.

  5. Let's hope this galvanizes them into turning a PR nightmare into something of a victory for the women of Juarez.

  6. Amazing post. I too couldn't believe that they couldn't have known what they were doing. But you've really spelled it out. Great to have a perspective from someone with experience of the product development process.

    That last image made me cry. And you're right - they totally have the money to right this wrong. They have put themselves in this position and they have a responsibility now to do the right thing.

    So great that so many people have got involved. Fully supporting the beauty bloggers tonight.

  7. Maybe if they plan to use ALL the profits from these products to make these places more secure they could get away with it?

  8. amazing and well written post!
    i didnt realise the long process to go through before finally launching a product and I am as baffled as you that at no state whatsoever people didnt stop the machine. un freaking believable.

    I've updated by the way the list of bloggers who wanted to react altogether at this. 28 so far, amazing. List states actual link of the post itself xx

  9. Fascinating to hear about production times. Shame on you Mac. Shame on you.

  10. Great post. I'm honestly disgusted by this 'concept' for a line. I totally agree that there was plenty of time of a realisation during the collection lead time. Why on Earth did no-one step up and question whether this was a good idea??!

  11. Fascinating to hear about production times. Shame on you Mac. Shame on you.

  12. good post thanks for writing.

    you can read my view here:


  13. Absolutely fantastic post and a very interesting read. You've brought to light a lot of information that I didn't know.


  14. The pictures in your post moved me to tears. As you have amply demonstrated, MAC cannot possibly claim that this is a mistake and their wishy washy afterthought of a PR release is an insult first and foremost to the victims of the femicides in Juarez and Chihuahua, and secondly to their "customers". Not. Good. Enough.

  15. This is really quite incredible.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Shame on you MAC.

  16. As a mother, finding out about yet another hideous atrocity where young women and girls are systematically targeted is almost too much to bear. But I thank you for such a balanced and thorough report, we need to know. I can't believe mothers and grandmothers have to live with this. I take your point about the incredible idiocy of the likely dozens of staff who saw this to fruition after several months of developing it. And the statement from the Mulleavy sisters is weak.

    I'm curious to see what happens next.

  17. Thank you for this important post. The information on the time it takes to bring products to market, as well as the photos of the women of Juarez, really highlight the incredible travesty that is this MAC Fall campaign. I have written to MAC that they must be more clear about the "portion" of profits that will be donated, as well as the recipient organizations (these things have a way of getting mis-directed by those in authority such as local politicians and police).

  18. As the mother of an 8-yr-old girl this really grabs me by the guts and gives me a shake. Like you, I can't believe no-one at MAC could see the stink this would raise.

    Excellent post.

  19. Totally agree - especially about the time it takes to get a product designed, approved and launched. I know how much of a lengthy process this is and how many people are involved. A disgrace. Check out my thoughts here: xx

  20. Great post, its amazing how everyone's pulling together.

    like many others, I've also written an article regarding this - please please drop your link back in my comments section. We need to spread the word so that everyone of any opinion gets a chance to say their piece. We've already got one on MAF with her head in the sand/up her butt...

    S x

  21. Thanks everyone for the comments - amazing support for this. C x

  22. Fantastic post raising awareness about such an important issue! I had no idea about this until I seen LipstickRules post telling people to click on others blogs to read about the situation.
    The pictures combined with what you have written really highlight the issue. Thanks for this..I am truly disgusted by this.

  23. the promo picture is so chilling and the blusher looks like a crime scene. i will not buy anything from this range. i agree with all you have said in your excellent post.x

  24. "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."

    And yet I had never heard of this.

    This controversy could do more to raise awareness of events in Juarez than straightforward celebrity campaigns seem to have done.

    I'm not saying that it's a good thing that MAC behaved in such a crass manner, but there may be some positive consequences.

  25. Unbelievable and very upsetting. No more MAC for me. I'm going to post about your excellent article at mine.

  26. Thank you so much everyone for taking the time to respond.

    Let's hope the end result is a good one for all concerned. Especially the real victims in all this - the women of Juarez - not MAC.

  27. This is gobsmakinly appalling. (Just popped over from Madam Mioaw's blog.) Great post kudos to you for puttng those out into the blogsphere

  28. MAC CROOK!!!!!!

  29. Excellent blog entry!!
    I appreciate the way you have adressed matters. I consider this is a very controversial issue but the majority of us agree that the collection is of a very bad taste.
    I would love to become part of that list, I have written about this in Spanish in my blog. I also appreciate that this thing has united lots of bloggers around the world.

  30. Maybe the machine created the buzz to create all of us having mac and este lauder on the tip of our tounges. They will end up saying there sorry and throwing tons of money at the problem and at the end of the day the controversy will have given them millions of dollars of free air time! Sometimes good. bad. or indifferent as long as people are talking about you is what is valid. Maybe the mistake was a cheaper marketing ploy than actually having a fantastic line to launch.

  31. As a Mexican customer of MAC I can not find enough words to thank you for your post and also saddens me that even though we BUY AND MAKE THIS COMPANY GAIN MONEY, they still think of their third world customers as not important people who are worth less than other country's markets. I guess that I won't purchase anything from MAC anymore. Trust me, at least their sales person will feel sad.

  32. STUNNING. I just heard about this "femicide fantasy" today. Much more important than the Sherrod story (which was really about games), but not covered by MSM. The thought that went into this art project concerns me the most. Let's demand that MAC & Rodarte use their considerable fortune to pay for a documentary about this untenable situation for women in Juarez. No apologies can do justice to fostering mindless consumption of "lady-shock". Women are used as convenient, victimizable containers for disruptive affect everywhere. We must not celebrate it. Sunlight now. No painting.


  33. The plight of Juarez is actually quite widely known about in the USA. I'm American and while probably more into current events than a large swath of the US, even those who avoid news outlets have heard of what's going on there... for years.

    Your summary of the process to bring a range to market is illuminating and necessary to show everyone that, as you rightly say, this is no mistake. What it is is much worse. It's a first-world brand using human misery in its backyard as "inspiration"... as a revenue-boosting tool.

    It's as if someone delusional twat in the art or marketing department (or wherever) saw Zoolander and thought "brilliant! We can do something like Derelique but make it even more risque. I know... why not raped and murdered women on the Mexican border? Oooh, so, frontier. So wild."

    The human element, the idea that these people matter even though they clearly don't buy your makeup or clothes, didn't cross their minds because, you know what? They don't matter to them.

    But it's good to see that they do matter to others, including a whole community of vociferous bloggers.

    The only way to right this wrong is to donate 100% of net profits to the cause. There is no doubt in my mind that MAC will NOT do this. How sad.

    We live in a world were taking responsibility for one's actions, including one's mistakes, no longer happens. Sad and very juvenile.

  34. Great and super interesting post!!
    I have never bought M.A.C products and I will certainly never will because of their ignorance and stupidity towards this type of international interest topic!
    The only positive thing that I would have to say and it changes nothing in my opposition and the stupidity and ignorance of the people that are behind the publicity in this brand is that they have created international awareness on this matter... I had no idea of what was going on and I'm sure that neither did 97% of all of you reading this comment did... and now we do we are young and we should try to do something to create awareness in this matter tell everyone we know that doesn't know about this and we will be creating awareness.!!1
    Believe me!!
    other than that!!


  35. I'm surprised about MAC especially with the things they do for aids I guess human rights is joke to them. I'm so sickened by it that I will not be buying MAC or makeup from their parent company Estee Lauder.

    Jeez, what next concentration camp victims, twin towers campaigns? They should of had money donated to the cause before trying to capatalize on the victims of Juarez.

  36. Caroline - what happened in the end about this? Would love to hear an update...