MAC Rodarte Controversy

While going through a few of my favourite blogs, I chanced upon this huge MAC - Rodarte Controversy that is splitting the blogosphere into two.

MAC apparently is launching a make-up collection abroad, inspired by Mexico, that has some some offensive names and connotations.

For example, one of the nail paints in this line is Juarez.

Juarez is the world's most dangeous and violent town. Everyday, a number of women are abducted on their way to work at factories and brutally raped and murdered. The police is a silent spectator to this atrocity that has been happening for more than 10 years now. The citizens of this town live in abject poverty and fear.

The other products in this range has equally odd names like Factory, Badlands, Sleepless, Ghost Town that are offensive to Latin people and those in Mexico who have been living in very bad conditions for years.

MAC of course has responded quickly and apologised. They have also agreed to donate a portion of the profits to a charity in Juarez. But a lot of bloggers say this is not enough - MAC needs to either withdraw the collection or change the names.

Branding and names in the Make-up industry have gotten very weird over the last few years. NARS is infamous for products like Deep Throat et al. I understand that this maybe helps get attention to the product.

But let's not trivilize someone's misery to name & brand a line. MAC with all it's experts, I am sure could have come up with better names, and I think they should. Let's not use human suffering to peddle makeup.

You can read more about this controversy here and  here

What do you think?

Update (21st September 2010): A lot of you may by now be aware, the line has been withdrawn. MAC has unconditionally aplogised and is commited to donating all of the projected profits from the sale of this line.

Was MAC really innocent? Did we as bloggers read too much into the ad? Should an advertiser take responsibility for every petty little element, most especially when the details hint at charges as serious as rape? Can one read too much into an ad?

The average commercial costs half a million dollars to produce and air. In the production phase, thousands of photographs are taken and miles of video are shot. These images are judged, rejected, resized, electronically manipulated, and finally rendered as a finished advertisement. The ads are often relayed back and forth between the ad team, agency executives, the sponsor’s marketing division, and their upper-level management. Companies spend over $200 billion a year on campaigns designed by advertising professionals in the hope that they will capture a sizable piece of the trillion-dollar global market. When the stakes are that high and the process so expensive and laborious, there is no question that every element is indeed intentional.

MAC knew exactly what it was peddling, it was only thanks to beauty bloggers who challenged MAC that this collection was withdrawn.


  1. Wowww...put it that way, it sounds so offensive. However, I never knew about this place or the horrible living conditions there, and to look at a positive side of it, at least there is more awareness now. Hopefully, the awareness translates to some action?!! As for a portion of the proceeds, it should have been a voluntary first-step on part of MAC, not as a response to all the controversy. And "a portion" is how much? That apart, I think people there need help, not money!

  2. I never knew about this but at least this way I came to know about this place and horrible living condition of women there..

  3. @Rads: I agree, the positive side is that more people are aware of the horrible situation there. I hope this awareness translates further into some positive action too..

    MAC, well, what do I say.. I am sure naming this collection was not a spur of the moment decision.

    Wikipedia says about Juarez - "the most violent zone in the world outside of declared war zones"..

    I just found that one of the other prdts in this line is called Sleepwalker - a side reference to these women labourers in these factories, they most work night shifts - that is when they are abducted.

    To still go ahead with these names is just being insensitive.

    @Anamika: Yea, it has raised awareness.

  4. this is just out of line...completely insensitive and in very bad taste.

  5. Very insensitive indeed..I am firmly on the anti-MAC side of the debate with this one!

  6. Tanveer, I just went through one of the links you had posted. That eyeshadow, the mineralized one, it was horrible. Just wanted to thank you for posting about this, most times we choose to overlook the bad in many products thinking its okay, but this time I think they just crossed too much past the line.

  7. @Rads: I know. I don't know what got into MAC. The eyeshadow looks so horrible - like a raw bruise.

    If MAC was looking for publicity - after all even bad publicity is publicity - it certainly got that. But it has totally lost my respect.

    How can you trivalise the fact that around 5000 women have gone missing in this area in the last few years. I shudder at the thought & callousness of MAC. Death & Rape is suddenly Glam for MAC:)

  8. I read bout this in temptalia..but i couldnt figure it out what this was about!! i was soo confused until now..thanks forvlearing that up..and i agree with..MAC has so many experts in PR and everything and they should not take up on people's suffering to sell makeup...
    It seems rather pathetic actually....

  9. Hey Tanveer. This is really unfortunate but sadly this is how companies act. They think giving provocative names means more sales. I have to wonder how successful the orgasm blush would have been without its attention grabbing name. Sad but true. I think MAC should change the names.

  10. Gosh!!! I had goose bumps when I read the post on one of the links u posted....It is really disgusting on the part of MAC to exploit such a condition....I think it would be sensible on their part to withdraw the names...They have already got the publicity they probably wanted...gonna do some googling on juarez


  11. hi Tanveer This is really unfortunate but i think..its all about for publicity...

  12. I am absolutely appalled. I don't think I can afford MAC anyway, but if I could I would have boycotted the collection and MAC themselves until they offered an unconditional apology.

  13. I think all sensitive and sane people should join their voices in protesting against the horrible insensitivity of Mac.They should realize that they make their products for women and women are their main patronisers and so they cannot under any circumstances trivialize the plight of women or hurt their sentiments to sell their cosmetics.I think no sensitive women can even think of touching, forget buying this range of cosmetics from Mac if they even for a moment think of the extreme plight of women in Juarez.This is downright atrocious and outrageous.I wrote this comment only to voice my protest.

  14. Thank you all for your support and for commenting and voicing your protest.

    The good news is that MAC has finally agreed to change the names on these products.

  15. Tanveer, I felt so strongly that I should find out about this unfortunate black mark in history through MAC other thing they made these poor women do is show the bosses their soiled sanitary napkins every month to prove that they are not pregnant! How revolting as well as an affront to a woman's privacy!


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