Maybelline New York shines light on online abuse in gaming with ‘Under the Avatar’ work via HERO


Harassment toward female-identifying gamers is rampant online, and whilst the gaming industry has introduced guidelines and measures to help protect everyone who plays, evidence makes it clear that more needs to be done to change the game for good.


Staggering research commissioned by Maybelline New York shows 76% of female-identifying gamers have experienced or observed harassment or offensive behaviour whilst online gaming, and 71% of male gamers who witness abuse in gaming just ignore it.

Following the success of its highly awarded Through Their Eyes campaign, Maybelline New York Australia has again turned its attention to changing the toxic behaviour directed towards female- identifying gamers, with a new social experiment video by HERO, Under the Avatar.

Maybelline New York shines light on online abuse in gaming with ‘Under the Avatar’ work via HERO

Last year, the Through Their Eyes campaign reached almost 450M impressions globally, garnering interest from United Nations Women who stated it was “…difficult to watch, but shows we have a long way to go”. The campaign saw male gamers put in the firing line of verbal abuse and harassment, by using tech to change their voices and insert them into a multiplayer game appearing as the opposite sex. Resulting in an astounding display of abuse, the video highlighted an urgent need to take further action.

Australian independent agency HERO produced an emotion-provoking video that acts as a call to arms, today launching Under the Avatar, in which two females are shown to experience alarming verbal abuse whilst in a multiplayer game. In the video, their unknowing friends’ reactions are shown as they witness the harassment, not knowing how they can help. The initiative acts 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.

Maybelline New York shines light on online abuse in gaming with ‘Under the Avatar’ work via HERO

This year, Maybelline New York aims to give gamers the tools to stand up for others experiencing toxic behaviour in-game and support those who have experienced abuse, as according to the research study, 59% of female-identifying gamers leave the game they are playing to get away from offensive or discriminatory behaviour*.

“We wanted to generate more than just empathy for those suffering from toxic abuse in the gaming world. We wanted anyone thinking that this behavior is tolerable to realise that there is a real human behind the avatar, and to give people the tools to stand up to online abuse,” says Maybelline New York, ANZ Marketing Director Melanie Bower.

Says Shane Geffen, executive creative director, HERO: “The mindset towards verbal abuse in the gaming world is proving difficult to shift, despite the large reach of the first campaign and concerted efforts by others to change the game. For this campaign we tried a different approach, to show gamers who they are really hurting, real human beings that are family, partners and friends.”

This year’s campaign, Under the Avatar, goes live Thursday March 14 and sees the continuation of partnership with youth mental health organisation ReachOut (AU) and the addition of Youthline (NZ) as part of its long-standing Brave Together global mental health initiatives.

Maybelline New York shines light on online abuse in gaming with ‘Under the Avatar’ work via HERO

CLIENT – Maybelline New York (L’Oreal Group)
Marketing Director: Melanie Bower, Alexandra Shadbolt
Head of Digital & Comms: Alana Pozzebon
Brand Business Lead: Adele Courgenay
Brand Engagement Manager: Hannah Lapedota
Brand Manager (Eye): Scott da Silva
Digital Brand Manager: Dawid Zastawnik

Executive Creative Director: Shane Geffen
Creative Director: Andrew Woodhead
Associate Creative Director: Lee Phillips
Head of Strategy: Tallon Mason-Kaine
Art Director: Charlotte Smith, Johnathan Akiki
Copywriter: Will Fox
Client Partner: Jane Callister
Account Director: Lauren Phillips
Account Manager: Mia Shadbolt
Senior Producer: Sheridan Wadelton, Jeff Edwards

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