Given the news cycle of modern times watching this "controversy" of a Virginia-based makeup company bringing a kissing contest to the West of Ireland in 1985 seems surreal.

In tranquil Mayo, in the year 1985, there was public outcry when a seemingly innocent feature appeared in the Connaught Telegraph newspaper, announcing a "Lip Smackin’ Competition" organized by a US company to promote its new range of organic lipstick. What was meant to be a lighthearted event quickly transformed into a public scandal, as many locals vehemently opposed the contest and its organizers, drawing international attention.

The event was the brainchild of a prominent American cosmetics company, The Pan Ryan International Company,  that had recently launched a new line of organic lipsticks.

The European Sales Manager, Victoria Merritt, explained that the company's directors were originally from County Mayo and saw the region as an ideal location for the promotion due to its picturesque charm and reputation for supporting eco-friendly initiatives. How wrong they were.

Upon seeing the advertisement in the Connaught Telegraph, the residents of Mayo were quick to voice their discontent. Many locals perceived the kissing contest as a blatant disregard for Irish traditions and a mockery of their cultural values.

One of many letters to the newspaper read "I wish to protest in the strongest possible terms at this disgusting kissing competition you’re organizing in your paper. Who do you think you are? What’s your paper coming to at all? You should be ashamed of yourself. Disgusted parent."

The contest, titled "Lip Smackin’ Competition," was conceived as a kissing challenge, where participants were encouraged to display their lip-smacking skills while donning the newly-launched organic lipstick. The event aimed to bring attention to the company's products, capitalize on the "green" trend, and raise the profile of Mayo as a tourist destination.

As the controversy gained momentum, local activists, community leaders, and concerned citizens united in opposition to the kissing contest. Petitions were circulated, calling for the event's cancellation and demanding an apology from the American company. Public meetings were organized, allowing locals to voice their grievances directly.

Under mounting pressure, the company eventually issued an apology, expressing regret for any offense caused and acknowledging its failure to fully comprehend the cultural sensitivities involved. The "Lip Smackin’ Competition" was hastily canceled, and plans for any future similar events were abandoned.