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Viva M.A.C
AIDS, Fashion, and the Philanthropic Practices of M•A•C Cosmetics
By (author): Andrea Benoit
9781487520281 Paperback, Trade English Higher Education SOCIAL SCIENCE / LGBT Studies / Gay Studies May 17, 2019
$29.95 CAD
Forthcoming 6 x 9 x 0.75 in | 480 gr 312 pages University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division

This is the first cultural history of the originally Canadian company M·A·C Cosmetics, charting the evolution of their unusual corporate philanthropy around HIV/AIDS awareness.

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.



Andrea Benoit is the Academic Review Officer in the Faculty of Arts & Science at the University of Toronto, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario.




"What happens when a company engages in ‘cause marketing’ long before that concept was widely known or practiced? Benoit’s study of M·A·C and AIDS-related fundraising during the 1980s and 1990s tells this fascinating story with panache, analytical rigour, and far-ranging historical investigation. This crisply written, multi-disciplinary account will interest scholars in such fields as health and society, LGBTQ studies, critical consumer/marketing studies, fashion history, and media studies."

- Daniel J. Robinson, Associate Professor, Media Studies, Western University

"With her extensive and illuminating research, Andrea Benoit tells the powerful story of a fearless company with heart. Harnessing the unbridled creativity that ran rampant in Toronto during M·A·C's formative years, ‘the Franks’ tapped into the pride and psyche of an entire society and inspired it to new artistic heights. Despite AIDS's dark shadow, Benoit paints a compelling portrait of an exhilarating fashion era, illustrating how courage and compassion can exist on a corporate level when hearts and minds are open and passionate." - Jeanne Beker, Journalist, Author, and Style Editor

"This is a story that needs to be told. Todays’ generation of fashion students have no history of the losses the industry faced in the 1980s-1990s as the AIDs epidemic was ravishing every level of the fashion and the arts industries. VIVA M·A·C gives them a thorough account of how we got to where we are today."

- Susan Baxter, associate professor of Marketing and Dean of Graduate Studies, LIM College

"The book is highly original as there is no other socio-cultural or business history of M·A·C. Benoit fuses a detailed historical record of M·A·C, AIDs within a setting of entrepeneurship and the Toronto fashion scene in a readable and enjoyable style that is framed within relevant critical theories that support and explain these histories that have not previously been delineated. This is a work that should be much referenced."

- Alexandra Palmer, Nora E. Vaughan Senior Curator, Textiles & Costume, Royal Ontario Museum

“What happens when a company engages in ‘cause marketing’ long before that concept was widely known or practiced? Benoit’s study of M·A·C and AIDS-related fundraising during the 1980s and 1990s tells this fascinating story with panache, analytical rigour, and far-ranging historical investigation. This crisply written, multi-disciplinary account will interest scholars in such fields as health and society, LGBTQ studies, critical consumer/marketing studies, fashion history, and media studies.”
- Daniel J. Robinson, Associate Professor, Media Studies, Western University

“This is a story that needs to be told. Todays’ generation of fashion students have no history of the losses the industry faced in the 1980s-1990s as the AIDs epidemic was ravishing every level of the fashion and the arts industries. VIVA M·A·C gives them a through account of how we got to where we are today.”
- Susan Baxter, associate professor of Marketing and Dean of Graduate Studies, LIM College

“The book is highly original as there is no other socio-cultural or business history of M·A·C. Benoit fuses a detailed historical record of M·A·C, AIDs within a setting of entrepeneurship and the Toronto fashion scene in a readable and enjoyable style that is framed within relevant critical theories that support and explain these histories that have not previously been delineated. This is a work that should be much referenced.”




- Alexandra Palmer, Nora E. Vaughan Senior Curator, Textiles & Costume, Royal Ontario Museum

“With her extensive and illuminating research, Andrea Benoit tells the powerful story of a fearless company with heart. Harnessing the unbridled creativity that ran rampant in Toronto during M•A•C’s formative years, ‘the Franks’ tapped into the pride and psyche of an entire society and inspired it to new artistic heights. Despite AIDS's dark shadow, Benoit paints a compelling portrait of an exhilarating fashion era, illustrating how courage and compassion can exist on a corporate level when hearts and minds are open and passionate.”


- Jeanne Beker, Journalist, Author, and Style Editor

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