An alumna’s book detailing one of Canada’s great, previously untold business philanthropy stories has won a major award book.
Andrea Benoit,PhD’14(Media Studies) won the 2020 National Business Book Award for her book, VIVA M·A·C: AIDS, Fashion, and the Philanthropic Practices of M·A·C Cosmetics.
The book tells the history and ethos of MˑAˑC (Make-up Art Cosmetics) through a cultural lens that shows how corporations effectively align with social causes.
The company established the MˑAˑC AIDS Fund public charity in 1994 – at a time when other companies shied away from being associated with the stigmatizing AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s – to support people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide.
A panel led by former CBC news anchor Peter Mansbridge selected the book from among National Business Book Awardfinalists, including books by prominent Canadian business personality Arlene Dickinson, Rotman School of Management professor Wendy Dobson and former union organizer John Stefanini.
The judging panel lauded Benoit’s “in-depth research, analysis and exceptional writing.”
“As I was exploring different examples of cause-marketing campaigns, many very successful on a global scale, I was surprised no one mentioned M·A·C Cosmetics or the M·A·C AIDS Fund,” Benoit said. “Since M·A·C Cosmetics is one of Canada’s great success stories, I had expected that its HIV/AIDS philanthropy through the VIVA GLAM initiative was well-known.”
Through the sale of Viva Glam Lipstick, M·A·C has directed more than $500 million to international causes working towards healthy futures and equal rights for all.
Benoit’s story tells how M·A·C’s creativity and unique cultural practices shaped and cemented its corporate social responsibility.
Along with archival research, Benoit conducted approximately 20 interviews with people in the fashion and media industries, including M·A·C co-founder Frank Toskan, and executives at M·A·C and Estée Lauder.
Benoit, who holds an administrative position overseeing the academic review process for the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto, is currently researching how branding and marketing are both rational and cultural business activities.