In Brands, Insight, Marketing

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, MAC Viva Glam has become a piece of beauty history. MAC was started by Frank Angelo and Frank Toskan in 1994 in reaction to the AIDS crisis. “We developed a great lipstick color we called VIVA GLAM,” said Toskan. “This little lipstick gave people dignity and saved lives.”

Estée Lauder acquired a majority stake in MAC that year, before buying out the rest of the business in 1998. MAC has grown to be a billion-dollar brand in the Estée Lauder portfolio, and Viva Glam has become part of the brand’s DNA.

“I had no clue or expectation that this would have gone as big as it has,” John Demsey, the Executive Group President of Estée Lauder who oversees MAC and the fund, said. “I hope that day comes that the money’s not needed for HIV. But I know that, even today, if there was a cure, a charitable organization would need to exist to ensure that the medication and the services got to people who would never be able to afford it.”

  • Viva Glam launched by MAC founders Frank Angelo and Frank Toskan in 1994, with its first campaign led by drag queen RuPaul.
  • The initiative has raised more than $500 million to fight AIDS.
  • MAC Viva Glam lipstick retails for  $18.50 and 100% of the sales go to the cause.
  • Sales fluctuate but generate from $20 million to $30 million annually.
  • Delivered around 10,000 grants to 1,800 HIV and AIDS programs around the world.
  • Viva Glam ambassadors have included Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, and Lil’ Kim, but Ariana Grande holds the record for the most money raised.
  • The brand is broadening its mission to also support charities specific to women and girls and the LGBTQ+ community under the newly named VIVA GLAM Fund. The organizations include Planned Parenthood, GLAAD, and Girls, Inc.

Photo: MAC Cosmetics via Instagram 

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