It all happened so fast: make-up brand MAC Australia posted on Instagram offering free lipstick for customers on National Lipstick Day. No strings attached.

This was picked up by online forums, news sites and various forms of social media within 24 hours.

What ensued was thousands of women – and men – across Australia lined up for hours before shops opened at 9 am on a Saturday morning. I’m talking about the type of lines you only see on Boxing Day, or when Apple releases a new iPhone, all in the hope that they would receive a full-sized lipstick from the cult make-up brand.

Interestingly, the term ‘national lipstick day’ saw a slight uplift for July 29th, whereas search volumes for ‘MAC lipstick’ shot through the roof.

Knowing very well that there was only a limited quantity available, avid brand fanatics still took a risk spending a decent part of their Saturday morning queuing up. There were even reports of people lining up from 5 am.

Why, you ask?

Simple. It’s because of desire.

MAC is one of many brands which have perfected the fundamentals of brand desire. When we as consumers suddenly find ourselves lusting after something new, we embark on a temporary craving of possessing a particular item. We crave the feeling of desire – a desire to desire.

The desire, in this case, was to be one of a lucky bunch that received a lipstick from a well-loved brand. Active participation in this giveaway was a way of saying, “Yes, I’m proud to be associated with this brand”, an attitudinal loyalty from a mass of brand advocates. These brand enthusiasts created immense buzz, all in the name of love for their favourite lipstick brand.

What more could a brand’s marketing department ask for?

Unfortunately, shops had very limited stock, and many who queued were disappointed within the first 15 minutes of doors opening. Consumers were left empty handed, and those who missed out took their fury to social media streams. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, you name it.

Was this considered as bad publicity though? I certainly didn’t think so. Some 5,952 likes and 1,635 comments later, the original post had gone viral across multiple online social platforms, and the media went into a frenzy.

Not bad, for a free product giveaway without a cent of advertising budget supporting this campaign.

Despite threats of customers boycotting the makeup giant for ‘misleading’ them with a restricted stock of freebies, we can’t deny that this exercise remained a topic of interest and was very much talked about for the next few days.

The general public was genuinely curious to know what the crazy lines were for, and all lipstick fans stood united with sisters, best friends, and loved ones for a morning out.

Plus, we all know that at the end of the day, MAC is the only place we’ll be able to get our perfect shade of Ruby Woo.

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Diane Wong

Diane Wong is a Digital Performance Manager in the Paid Media team at iProspect Melbourne. Diane’s role is to be a trusted advisor for her clients and stakeholders, whilst driving strategic insight, delivery and results across all digital campaigns.