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Case Study

Maybelline Online Gamer Experiences

Exploring the experience of online gaming in Australia, particularly among female & LGBTQIA+ identifying gamers.


Part of the L’Oreal group, Maybelline has long enjoyed a strong position in the Australian beauty market, but efforts to reach the ever-sought after Gen Z market have forced the cosmetics juggernaut into new and unfamiliar places, as it reimagines its position in the lives of a consumer base that increasingly live out much of their lives online.

The brand first identified the world of gaming as a potential avenue to connect more deeply with these hard-to-reach consumers 18 months ago, and while L’Oreal Australia’s marketing director Alexandra Shadbolt says the brand is still learning its place in the gaming community, Maybelline seems keen to affirm its commitment to the space.

As online gaming has continued to grow in popularity, particularly among Gen Z, so too has the risk of online harassment and discrimination. With the connection between gaming and mental health drawn, Maybelline and Hero last year set out to investigate the full scope of the issue, engaging Bastion Insights to deliver a national survey into discrimination in the Australian gaming space.

Bastion Insights group client director, Tabitha Lucas says the National Gamer Survey aimed to “challenge and test preconceptions and hypotheses about what is actually happening in the gaming space in Australia”.

“From anecdotal feedback and overseas data, we assumed harassment and discrimination were things female identifying and LGBTQIA+ gamers were experiencing, but there was a big question mark around to what extent was this being experienced. Surveying a large number of people across Australia allowed us to find out this extent and discover just how prevalent discrimination in gaming really is.”

The research, which sampled 601 gamers aged 16 and over, revealed that harassment or offensive behaviour had been experienced or observed by 92% of LGBTQIA+, 84% of females and 72% males while gaming online.

In addition, 90% of female gamers believed that harassment ‘must be addressed’, 85% believe it is a major problem, and 75% believe it is unsafe.

The results also told Maybelline that there was a level of complacency amongst male gamers that must be addressed of the issue is to be resolved – with 71% of young male gamers ignoring harassment or discrimination they had observed.

Many gamers are frustrated with the lack of action from the gaming platforms and wish more was being done to combat the toxic culture. Further, the conversation among friends, families and other gamers is novel and limited. There is a large opportunity for campaigns, including by commercial brands, to provide some much needed advocacy to make gaming a safe space for all.

Whilst a lot of research has been done overseas on harassment among gamers, there was a lack of research and data on harassment on online games in Australia. This Bastion Insights Gamer Research explores the experiences of female and LGBTQIA+ gamers in the Australian context – highlighting the need for action, to ensure everyone can participate safely online.

Geffen says that the results proved that the issue exists, but communicating that message effectively to primarily male-identifying perpetrators would be a challenge.

For that reason, the campaign leveraged male gamers, who would be able to engage their young male audiences in a way that is relatable to their own experiences.

“We do know that the perpetrators of this abuse, majority of the time are males. So hence why we wanted to actually show them what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes,” says Shane.

In the three minute film, Joel “JoelBergs” Bergs and Drew “DrewD0g” Warne are confronted with discrimination first hand, as they enter the gaming world in the shoes of a female. As female-identifying gamers, Amber “PaladinAmber” Wadham and Luna “Luminumn” look on, the men join a first-person shooter game with female-altered voices and fake female profiles..

In less than two hours of game play, Bergs and Warne receive a slew of abusive comments, while Wadham, and Luna commentate the situation, finding alarming similarities with their own experiences online.

As the spot finishes, Bergs asks Wadham why she continues to play despite the abuse, to which she puts down to her love of playing the game. “It doesn’t have to be a boys’ club or a girls’ club. Gaming is made for everyone, and should be experienced by everyone,” she offers.

While the campaign first launch on February 16, across Maybelline’s social and digital media channels and in-store, the work is set to culminate tomorrow in Maybelline’s live gaming tournament, the Eyes Up Cup. The competition will see 32 of Australia’s “most impactful” women in gaming compete on a custom Maybelline New York Fortnite mod map, designed especially for the campaign in partnership with Click media, Google and Hero. Maybelline will also mark the contest with a $10,000 donation to ReachOut.

While unusual for a purpose-driven campaign, Through Their Eyes has been somewhat fittingly anchored in Maybelline’s mascara offering – the category in which it claims to be the most penetrated in market.

“In full transparency, this was a big and really daunting campaign because there are such obvious challenges with bringing a purpose-led campaign anywhere near product,” admits Shadbolt. “And with Maybelline being such a famously product-led kind of brand, we didn’t want to be disingenuous, which is why we invested so heavily upfront in conducting the research and really diving into that world.”

Read the full article by Mumbrella here

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