Collaborations have become a staple in many categories, and beauty and cosmetics is no exception. Adding special external flavours borrowed from brands, artists, characters, movies, or video games proves for many brands a powerful marketing tool, especially to enhance brand relevance and to create buzz around any product.

One of the most followed paths in collaborations, as all our Halo Licensing Survey subscribers know, is to use the gaming and video games aesthetics to get the attention of millennials and Gen Z consumers, and many lifestyle brands, power users of collaborations liaise with characters like Pokémon (Gucci x Northface) or League of Legends (Louis Vuitton) to build their strong storytelling launches.

But making up a standard product with a partner logo is not enough: authenticity and consistency is key in any collaboration. This golden rule has been neglected by MAC Cosmetics, one of the most dynamic players in the cosmetics collabotation scene, with the launch of “MAC starring the Sims” palette of eye-shadow.

Both gamers and cosmetics fans realised immediately that the nine neutral colourways of the product did not match with the vibrant aesthetics of the video game. Worst yet, the most accurate beauty fans maintained that those colours are identical to a palette launched by MAC in 2017.

MAC’s defense – “the colours match virtual MAC Cosmetics shades available to characters in the Sims 4 game” – did not ring a credible bell to the fans, and MAC missed a beat in the conversation with its die-hard fans, one of the worst mistake from a marketing perspective.

If probably there is no limits in how far the ingredients or flavours borrowed are from the collaboration host ones’, it’s fundamental that any guest -brand, game, character- must find a consistent and credible narrative integrated in the launch. Otherwise that’s only “brand slapping”.