Lipsticks to end AIDS: MAC Cosmetics gets Malaysian AIDS Foundation Patron’s Award for continued support

Mark Ryan Raj
Cheryl Joannides says that she is delighted to take the stage to receive the Patron’s Award on behalf of MAC Cosmetics Malaysia. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PETALING JAYA, Dec 16 — In their fight against HIV, organisations and foundations supporting the cause need all the help they can get. 

With the aid of private corporations and businesses, foundations such as the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) are able to fund their efforts to help raise awareness and combat the stigma about the disease. 

As such, in appreciation of its longstanding support in the fight to end the disease and endeavours to help raise awareness, MAC Cosmetics Malaysia (MAC) was presented with MAF’s distinguished Patron’s Award. 

The Patron’s Award was received by Estee Lauder Companies Malaysia’s general manager and MAC Malaysia’s managing director Cheryl Joannides at MAF-Berjaya Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Award Gala Dinner 2019 at the Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

At the event, Tan Sri Mohd Zaman Khan Rahim Khan and Datuk Dr Raj Karim were also presented with Patron’s Awards for their deeprooted support in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Malaysia. 

Understandably proud by the nod from MAF, Joannides told Malay Mail that she was thrilled that her organisation had been making a positive impact in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Joannides was thrilled when she heard that MAC would receive the award, as she was proud that the company could help causes like MAF. — Picture by Choo Choy May

“Honestly we are delighted. It’s more than an honour actually and it’s quite humbling to receive the award from MAF and know that we’ve made an impact,” said Joannides.

“Supporting the AIDS movement and giving back to the community has always been the heart and soul of MAC Cosmetics.”

The mother of two said the idea for MAC to support AIDS causes around the world came from its original co-founders, Frank Toskan and the late Frank Angelo, as they started up the MAC AIDS Fund back in 1994. 

“As part of the MAC AIDS Fund, MAC Cosmetics original founders, started the Viva Glam campaign 25 years ago because they wanted to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS,” said Joannides. 

“They wanted to give back and really ensure that they were raising the right kind of awareness against stigma and association of the disease.”

She added that many customers and associates of MAC still had no idea what the Viva Glam campaign is and that the Viva Glam lipstick plays a major role in the support of AIDS foundations worldwide. 

One hundred per cent of MAC’s Viva Glam lipstick retail selling price is given or donated to AIDS foundations across the world, not just in Malaysia, as the vivid red lipstick symbolises the solidarity and unity for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Viva Glam has long since been a tool to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS as Joannides explained. — Picture by Choo Choy May

“The founders started the lipstick called Viva Glam and the sale of this product is directed to foundations all over the world, every day, 365 days a year,” said Joannides. 

“To date, MAC has donated half a billion US dollars to over 1800 organisations in over 100 countries and territories across the world,

“And we always try to give back where possible in the area that the money was raised, so for example, the sale of Viva Glam in Malaysia will be directed to MAF.”

MAC’s continued support of AIDS foundations worldwide is also down to the valiant efforts of its founders as Joannides explained that it is the duty of the company’s current leaders to carry on their legacy and champion such causes. 

“It all started with a vision 25 years ago, the stigma around HIV/AIDS was huge, now, fortunately, there is a lot more awareness but the disease still exists,” said Joannides. 

“We need to ensure that we continue that vision of the founders, they started with the red lipstick 25 years ago and we haven’t changed the model since.”

Having travelled across the world to work under Estee Lauder Companies, in countries like South Africa and Singapore, and with nearly 25 years of experience under her belt, Joannides expressed that she hopes that MAC will continue to raise money for the fight against the disease during her tenure.

Joannides said that making a difference in the communities living with HIV/AIDS is always part of MAC’s efforts in the fight against the disease. — Picture by Choo Choy May

“Wherever I have been, it has always been something very important to me personally to help make a difference to communities living with HIV/AIDS,” said Joannides.

“But it’s great to see that, now, a number of different brands are joining in the movement and the MAC Malaysia team is also very passionate and involved in pushing out the Viva Glam product.”

She added that the team at MAC were always looking for fresh new ways to push the Viva Glam initiative to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS to the new generations.

“You have to keep things fresh. The red lipstick colour stays the same, but year on year, we will add different glosses and finishes, we changed it a little so there’s always a lipstick for somebody,” said Joannides.

MAC also employ other means to keep things fresh, in order to maintain their effort and support to foundations like MAF as it often introduces new features or styles to the Viva Glam product to keep the youth aware and involved in the cause. 

This also includes getting new and hip spokespeople to represent the brand, like Ru Paul, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande.

Joannides said: “You wear lipstick on your mouth, so when you wear Viva Glam you not only get to look glamorous, but you also give something back at the same time, by raising awareness about HIV/AIDS.”

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