Founded by Frank Toskan of Canada in 1984, Makeup Art Cosmetics company is one of the few companies which has used innovative PR and unconventional marketing to create a niche for itself without spending millions of pounds in advertising.
The company began by giving away their cosmetics to makeup artists that worked with top models and actresses. MAC developed products that helped artists achieve the right look for stage lighting conditions. It is one of the few brands on the market which has colours to match every skin tone and colour.
Working on a simple all encompassing Brand Positioning of Makeup for All ages, all races, all sexes, its brand values project MAC Makeup as attitudinally hip, artfully irreverent, dedicated fully to the art of self-decoration and the realization of the Individual.
The Brand personality is cosmopolitan, innovative, irreverent, Original, which has almost created a Cult like following. Loved by women of all ages, it is one of the few fashion brands which truly transcend age.
From the very beginning the marketing strategy was to created makeup for makeup artists for fashion, movies and theatre. Endorsement through word of mouth was generated by giving away cosmetics to makeup artists who worked with top models and actresses in the early years of the Franks venture.
Over the years MAC has built a reputation for itself by unconventional and innovative marketing, breaking away from the safe and obvious. Since its philosophy is to create makeup for all ages, sexes and races, it has never shied away from affiliations with controversial artists and personalities.
In 1994 MAC started retail industry’s first charity called MAC AIDS fund. In 1994, Mac was one of the first to bring charity to retail sector. They started MAC AIDS fund for men, women and children affected by AIDS. The same year they launched VIVA GLAM lipstick.
MAC decided that every cent of the selling price of the VIVA GLAM lipsticks would go to the M·A·C AIDS Fund. VIVA GLAM’s first lipstick was red in colour which symbolizes the fight against AIDS/HIV throughout the world.
With a total of six shades of Viva Glam lipstick and two shades of Viva Glam ‘lipglass’ now sold worldwide, and through the annual Kids Helping Kids Card Program, M·A·C Cosmetics has provided over $95 million (US) to date for the M·A·C AIDS Fund. MAC pays for the ads and its production, the packaging, the shipping and of course their lost profit margin out of their own pocket.
It worked wonders for the MAC brand as the offer was refreshingly straightforward “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.”
MAC holds Viva Glam gala and fundraiser annually to raise funds for its charity and VIVA GLAM lipstick has become one of the fashion world's most glamorous and successful fundraising initiatives of all time.
From the beginning the brand has targeted the premium segments with its pricing. Regular introduction of new trendsetting ranges and colours kept the excitement alive like the latest one is 'Antiquitease' inspired by antique look.
MAC has done some Periodic ads featuring unlikely celebrities such as flamboyant entertainer RuPaul and Elton John. In 1995, RuPaul was signed to a modelling contract for MAC cosmetics, making him the first drag queen supermodel. M.A.C has never shied away from affiliations with controversial artists.
PR strategies used by MAC:
Apart from traditional media, MAC regularly gives out new launched products to be reviewed by various beauty websites and beauty blog owners which is one very powerful SEO tool and increase the credibility of the brand. A few examples are as below:
Off late MAC has started heavy usage of PPC advertising. Search for cosmetics or any beauty related term on the Internet and you can see MAC all over the Internet.
Marketing Tactics used by MAC over time:
1. Halloween: 25 different looks for Halloween—from ghoulish to feminine to downright scary— highlighted on its Web site, Maccosmetics.com and at all M.A.C. counters.
2. Back to MAC: "Because we share your commitment to the environment, M·A·C accepts returns of its primary packaging through the Back to M·A·C Program. By returning six M·A·C primary packaging containers to a M·A·C counter or M·A·C Cosmetics Online, you receive a free M·A·C Lipstick of your choice as our thanks to you.
3. Barbie colours cosmetics line of cosmetics: MAC has teamed up with Mattel to launch a Barbie line. The line is intended for adults, and comes with its own limited-edition MAC-themed Barbie doll
4. Temporary websites dedicated to a particular new launch like http://www.barbielovesmac.com/
5. BoomBox – BoomBox is London’s first free for all Fashion Club in East London. BoomBox isn't serious, posey or full of egos; it's fun, inclusive and unpretentious club unlike fashion which is meant to be exclusive. The fashion ethos at BoomBox is simple: if all else is luxury brands, don't try and compete – be different, be brilliant on your own terms, create something out of nothing and feed off the sense of community surrounding you. Its frequented by fashion celebrities and is said to have revived London’s fashion scene and London Fashion Week. MAC has tied up with it in smart way by selling MAC and BoomBox co-branded T-Shirts.
1. MAC is sold in 66 countries across the globe in 1000 outlets.
2. MAC’s founder says "I don’t have the luxury of communicating with my clients, so therefore my salespeople are the link between my philosophy and their customers." This is the reason why MAC assistants on shop counters are trained to advice customers on makeup techniques, formulas, and latest trends.
3. MAC is present in 53 stores across UK out of which 8 are MAC’s flagship stores proving the fact that the brand pull is so strong that consumers flock these few stores to buy MAC cosmetics giving it a cult like following.
So when a mass market brand like L'Oreal or a premium brand like Clinique spend millions on advertising, a brand like MAC does it all by inspiring its stakeholders in non intrusive and subtle w ays without spending a fortune on advertising.