This is the first cultural history of the originally Canadian company M A C Cosmetics, charting the evolution of M A C's unusual corporate philanthropy around HIV/AIDS awareness. The book situates M A C's remarkable corporate philanthropy within three cultural and social phenomena of the 1980s and 1990s: the revitalization of the Toronto fashion industry, the evolution of the AIDS epidemic in North America, and the increasing commodification of social causes.
Describing M A C's philanthropic work through its VIVA GLAM fundraising lipstick, this book delves into the history of its charity, the M A C AIDS Fund, which featured drag performer RuPaul and singer k.d. lang in its first advertising campaigns. M A C defied the stigma associated with AIDS that alarmed many other corporations, and instead engaged in AIDS advocacy while maintaining its creative and fashionable authority.
Framed by Pierre Bourdieu's field theory and Judith Butler's gender theory, and engaging with archives, contemporaneous media communications, and interviews with key fashion figures, the book explains how M A C's activities around AIDS philanthropy were based in specific cultural practices, rather than being part of a strategic marketing plan. Ultimately, M A C's unusual style of corporate social responsibility originated and functioned within the same field of cultural production in which the AIDS crisis was directly experienced: fashion. As such, M A C's activities can be viewed as markedly different from other cases of corporate philanthropy or cause marketing.