MAC Cosmetics collabs with Xbox to reach gamer and cosplay communities

One of the earliest brands to get into gaming, MAC Cosmetics is teaming up with Xbox for the first time this Halloween. 

For a new campaign announced today, the brand enlisted makeup artists to create four looks based on characters from Xbox games “Halo,” “Sea of Thieves” and “Psychonauts.” The campaign being released today continues MAC’s ongoing involvement in the gaming world as a growing number of beauty brands embrace it. 

“The gaming community is incredibly diverse and full of beauty consumers who love recreating looks from their favorite games in real life, especially for Halloween,” said Aïda Moudachirou-Rebois, svp and global CMO of MAC Cosmetics, via email.

“The gaming community is hugely important, because when you think about gaming, fantasy and escapism, that’s always what makeup has been,” said Alicia Martinez, a regional education trainer for MAC Cosmetics. Martinez created a look based on the character Milla Vodello from “Psychonauts” for the campaign. “We are in a space in the world where escapism is something that we’re all looking for,” she said. 

Xbox game characters featured also include Sasha Nein from “Psychonauts,” via a look created by John T. Stapleton, MAC Cosmetics senior national artist, and Cortana from “Halo,” created by UK-based makeup artist Martina Derosa. “Sea of Thieves'” pirate Lesedi was created by Romero Jennings, MAC Cosmetics director of makeup artistry.

Jennings said the artists looked to cosplay looks at various events like Comic-Con for inspiration.  

“When we discussed it, we were like, ‘Let’s try to elevate it,’” said Jennings. “Everybody is leveling up their game,” when it comes to cosplay for favorite characters, especially around Halloween, said Jennings. “There are so many ways to show and present yourself on social, as well as at these conventions.” 

MAC Cosmetics was one of the earliest beauty brands to become active in the gaming world, sponsoring Twitchcon in 2019. In 2020, the brand launched a collaboration with “The Sims,” for which Jennings created looks that appeared in the game. Its involvement with gaming is international, as it also launched highly successful collaborations with the Tencent game “Honor of Kings” in China in both 2019 and 2020.

“I remember being at TwitchCon and having so many people come up to the MAC booth, and really sort of congratulating and welcoming us, saying they’re so happy that we’re there,” said Stapleton.

The move into gaming can further help engage with cosplay enthusiasts, who “traditionally used theatrical makeup that maybe they had found in sub Reddits,” said Martinez. “We really opened their eyes to not only our line of traditional makeup, but [our] professional makeup, as well. Through more exposure people are seeing that cosplay doesn’t fit within a box.” 

Prior to gaming, the brand also engaged with the cosplay community by attending Comic-Con and a Star Trek convention in 2016 for its Star Trek collection. 

“We have been working with different fandoms and things for so long,” said Martinez.

Other beauty brands active in gaming in recent years have included Benefit Cosmetics, E.l.f. Cosmetics, Charlotte Tilbury and NYX Cosmetics. The beauty brands entering the space have often worked to encourage gender equality in the gaming world. 

“Gaming has been a very male-dominated space for a long time, even though there are so many women and people outside of the gender normative that are playing and really feeling connected to this space,” said Martinez. 

“We are proud to partner with MAC Cosmetics to showcase the exciting intersection of the gaming and beauty communities,” said Marcos Waltenberg, director of Xbox Global Partnerships, via email. 

Following this campaign, MAC Cosmetics plans to continue to engage with the gaming world. 

“We’re dipping our toe in the water,” said Jennings. “The whole thing with gaming is that the audience really is the next generation of consumer. The sky is the limit, and there are so many opportunities.”

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