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VIVA Glam Lipstick for the MAC AIDS Fund

Sexier Than Thou

Think your cause-related marketing is hotter than a firecracker? Confident your campaign is so steamy it could set off fire alarms?

Unless you’re MAC Cosmetics you’re probably kidding yourself.

These two ads, which ran near the front of the June and October 2006 Lucky Magazine, are for the MAC AIDs Fund. The campaign features impossibly-beautiful women wearing MAC Cosmetics as well as some actual clothing.

The offer is refreshingly straightforward and bare as the models’ midriffs. “Every cent of the selling price of MAC Viva Glam Lipstick and Lipglass is donated to the MAC AIDs Fund to support men, women and children living with HIV and AIDs.”

The language cuts the lard out of so many cause-related marketing efforts that obfuscate the actual donation.

The markup for cosmetics is astonishing, so this represents more than just an effort on MAC’s part to move more SKUs. MAC is paying for things like the ad and its production, the packaging, the shipping and of course their lost profit margin out of their own pocketbook. Very generous indeed.

Of course MAC is betting is that once you try their cosmetics you’ll come back. Or, that your total purchase of MAC Cosmetics will be higher.

MAC Cosmetics has a reputation for savvy and unconventional marketing. The company began by giving away their cosmetics to makeup artists that worked with top models and actresses.

The MAC AIDs Fund website says that more than $85 million has been donated to AIDS causes worldwide since 1994. That’s much more than the higher-profile cause-related marketing relationship between Yoplait and Susan G. Komen which dates to 1997.
By definition, $85 million over 13 years is a very succesful cause-related marketing campaign. Call me a cause-related marketing geek, but I can't help but wonder what's doing the selling here? Is it the cause and the remarkably generous offer? Is it the sexy models and provocative ads? Or is it both?
It would be fun to test that question.
Feel free to chime in with your opinion.

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