Under The Avatar - Cosmetics - Maybelline New York JPG
Under The Avatar - Cosmetics - Maybelline New York JPG
Under The Avatar - Cosmetics - Maybelline New York MP4 3m:18s
Under The Avatar - Cosmetics - Maybelline New York MP4 2m:14s

Under The Avatar - Maybelline New York

Under The Avatar - Maybelline New York - Cosmetics


Title: Under The Avatar
Brand: Maybelline New York
Product/Service: Cosmetics
Client: Maybelline New York
Entrant Company: HERO / McCann Melbourne
Agency: HERO / McCann Melbourne
Production Company: Photoplay
Editing Company: Photoplay
Sound Company: Gusto Studios
Creative Director: Shane Geffen
Release Date: 2024-03-14
Duration: 03:18
Individual Credits: Executive Creative Director: Shane Geffen
Individual Credits: Creative Director: Andrew Woodhead
Individual Credits: Associate Creative Director: Lee Phillips
Individual Credits: Art Director: Charlotte Smith
Individual Credits: Art Director: Johnathan Akiki
Individual Credits: Head of Strategy: Tallon Mason-Kaine
Individual Credits: Client Partner: Jane Callister
Individual Credits: Account Director: Lauren Phillips
Individual Credits: Account Manager: Mia Shadbolt
Individual Credits: Senior Producers: Sheridan Wadelton
Notes for Judging: Overview:

Maybelline New York believes that everyone should be free to express themselves and play - activated a social brand campaign in partnership with leading gaming influencers, to shed light on gender discrimination in gaming by highlighting the bystander effect, where 71% of male gamers who witness this abuse, ignore it. The campaign set out to inspire all gamers to speak out when witnessing abuse with resources and support. The campaign exploded on Twitch, Tik Tok and Youtube with over 30 influential gamers sharing the campaign with a combined audience of over 10M, resulting in over 3.5M minutes viewed online.

Cultural Context:

The worlds of makeup and gaming don’t naturally intersect, and as such we started with a deep dive into understanding the lives of female gamers, to discover where we could play a meaningful role.

A national survey was commissioned into the level of discrimination across all genders in the Australian gaming space, which revealed 83% of female-identifying and 50% of LGBTQIA+ identifying gamers have directly experienced and/or observed offensive behaviour or language while online gaming, with most female-identifying and LGBTQIA+ identifying players admitting to turning off their microphone when playing to hide their gender and avoid harassment.

But just as shockingly the survey also found that 71% OF MALE GAMERS WHO WITNESS ABUSE CHOOSE TO IGNORE IT. This is referred to as the bystander effect.

This exposed a failure at a wider industry and societal level to support women in gaming and facilitate safe online communities free of discrimination. A toxic and misogynist environment that was preventing female-identifying players from properly engaging and having the opportunity to elevate into professional gamer roles.

As a brand whose purpose is all about GIVING PEOPLE THE CONFIDENCE TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES AND TO PLAY, we could not stand by and say nothing when our consumers were hiding themselves away to feel safe.

Together with Maybelline’s Braver Together initiative, created to help young people with mental health and anxiety, the decision was made to bring to life the brand’s purpose in the gaming space.


Maybelline New York believes that everyone should feel free to express themselves, to play and to create. A brand purpose reinforced by their long-running Brave Together platform that aims to destigmatise anxiety and depression and make support for mental health accessible for all. However, the online gaming world is one place where many don’t feel safe to express themselves due to constant targeted abuse. Research has revealed five key facts:

1 in 2 female gamers have experienced abuse online.
59% of female gamers stop to get away from offensive and discriminatory behaviour.
More and more players are forgetting there’s a real person under the gaming character.
71% of male gamers who witness abuse ignore it.
Most gamers are unsure or ill-equipped to combat in-game harassment.

Our objective was to educate and motivate male gamers to help create a safer, more respectful and inclusive gaming community.

Describe the creative idea:

We wanted to remind all gamers that behind every digital character is a real human being, so we created an emotion-provoking social activation called Under The Avatar where male gamers were invited to test a new multiplayer game. What they didn’t know was that we were actually testing them.

Unbeknownst to them we inserted female players into the same game that were friends or relatives of the male players. With the female players permission and acknowledgement we allowed abuse and harassment to be hurled in their direction during gameplay. As predicted the male players stayed silent and failed to stand up to the abused gamers. The females were then revealed to the male gamers after play.

The 3-minute social experiment film, acted as a reminder that there is a real person on the other side of the game, and abuse can target a friend, partner, sister or daughter.

Describe the strategy:

We commissioned an Australian research survey with 600 garners to get deeper insights into the problem and the results were confronting. It was clear that action needs to be taken to protect female-identifying gamers against online abuse. The main outtake being that 71% OF MALE GAMERS WHO WITNESS ABUSE WILL IGNORE.

Our strategy was then not just to simply shine a light on an existing problem, but to amplify the silent voices on the subject matter, and create allies both male and female in the online gaming world. Further to this, we wanted to shift the conversation from being between female gamers, and place the onus on males, because if the game is truly going to change, it starts with changing their current behaviour.

We needed to target male readers, viewers and players, talking to them where they would be the most highly engaged and receptive.

Describe the execution:

On March 14, 2024, we broadcast the social film at a national Fortnite gaming tournament with 30 influential streamers then live-streaming it to their combined audience of over 9.5M followers. It was also shared by the experiment’s participants to their Twitch and TikTok followers creating a further organic reach of 20M+ gamers.

As well as featuring on Maybelline New York and charity organisation ReachOut’s channels, we partnered with NZ charity Youthline to integrate and implement counselling under the avatar with psychologists playing within online games renowned for high levels of toxic abuse. The service was promoted through TiKTok and Twitch, letting female players know that there was professional support available.

Lastly, through Maybelline NY’s charity partnerships ReachOut (AU) and Youthline (NZ) advice, tips and tools were provided to help young players stand up for people experiencing toxic voice chat while offering support to those who have experienced abuse.

List the results

The film was shared by over 30 influential Twitch streamers reaching 9.5M+ gamers and amassing over 45,000 viewed hours in 48 hours.

National and international media outlets shared the campaign including the GameHers, Sydney Morning Herald, national TV network Ch7, national syndicated radio SYN, NZ Herald, Pop Sugar and Fashion Journal. In total, it amassed 70M+ global impressions and an earned media reach of 25M+.

The most important outcome was connecting with male gamers. Social listening revealed a dramatic gender shift in campaign engagement in just 4 weeks:

Before: Female 72%, Male 28%
Weeks 1 - 2: Female 61%, Male 39%
Weeks 3 - 4: Female 47%, Male 53%

A common catchcry among male gamers was emerging, ‘If you see this behaviour, stand up to it’.

Maybelline Australia also reached their highest dollar sales ever for Sky High, Colossal and Falsies Surreal Mascaras.

Director: Jasmin Tarasin
EP/Producers: Emma Thompson & Florence Tourbier
DP: Jack Saltmiras
Editor: Lucy McCullum
Colourist: Yanni Kronenberg
Online Editor: Tom Hetherington

Sound Design: Colin Simkins
Producer: Brigid Giles-Webb