This year’s 520 Valentine’s Day encountered another retail slump as luxury brands continue to weather the pandemic in China. However, unlike in 2020, leading players still seized the marketing occasion to maintain their local relevance.
The mainland-exclusive V-day, rooted in the country’s unique cyberculture, is the go-to occasion for targeting the digitally native Gen Z. Given the effects of COVID-19, the impact on transportation and logistics means fewer online-exclusive offerings than usual, while beauty labels like Tom Ford Beauty have launched group buying schemes for Shanghai.
Here, Jing Daily spotlights six luxury firms celebrating this year’s 520 Day in innovative ways — from interactive video games to curating themes of love — and analyzes how they won over local shoppers during this difficult time.
Balenciaga launched a campaign which included a series of social initiatives and limited editions, all available on their official website and offline stores. The “5:20 Video Game Hall,” a virtual arcade featuring pixel art and a realistic soundscape, stood out — and is live now on the company’s WeChat channel until May 20. Alongside this was a release of 520-exclusive profile photos and WeChat memes that are free to download.
The hall’s mini-games resonated greatly with Chinese Millennials, who grew up with arcade classics like Galaxian and Super Mario; and many WeChat users have already used the memes and profile photos. Such assets function as a stamp of virtual identity, which will help the house to consolidate its digital relevance and expand its online communities.
Louis Vuitton highlighted its LV Volt jewelry collection, playing with the legacy house’s signature logo. The collection’s new 2022 launches feature its consistent gender-fluid designs that advocate confidence and individuality.
The 520 campaign cast two young talents — actress and singer Wu Xuanyi and Gen Z male singer Justin Huang — to showcase the collection’s necklace, bracelets, and rings. Thanks to these celebrities (who count a total social following of 50 million), the campaign hashtag has hit 1120 million views as of May 20. The house also rolled out an immersive ad on WeChat Moments, which allows users to browse the campaign video and the collection in a more engaging way.
Tiffany marked this year’s 520 Valentine’s Day by presenting a limited edition Tiffany Hardwear necklace with rubies. The campaign “Blue is the Color of Love” starred the luxury jeweler’s global brand ambassador Eileen Gu, the Olympic gold medalist freestyle skier and model. Gu’s endorsement of this campaign has turbocharged its social engagement: the campaign hashtag #ElieenGuTiffanytheColorofLove and #ElieenGuColorson on Weibo has racked up a total viewership of 230 million as of publication — a substantial number for a commercial ad. The campaign video, in which Gu opens Tiffany’s signature blue box, has received 99 million views, with comments like “mysterious,” “high-end,” and “gorgeous.”
Gu’s collaboration with Tiffany has been a boon since the teenage freeskier won her first gold medal this February. Thanks to the sensation on social media, Tiffany gained significant organic traffic overnight. And though the business has launched other 520-exclusive products over the last year, the success of this particular outing will only further elevate campaign exposure and consumer desire.
Prada unveiled a digital campaign focusing on the bewitching power of love and the beauty it can reveal. Following this concept, the company presented an original, artistic fantasy via campaign videos and photographs.
The Italian house also released a special selection of products featuring a bright and dynamic color palette of orange, emerald green, vermillion, and yellow — contrasting with soft grays and graphic black and white. These products resonated well with the campaign, which starred Alexander Poole and Chinese model Lina Zhang. However, distinct from the house’s previous 520 effort, it relies on visual communication rather than leveraging celebrity power.
Valentino presented the Valentino Garavani 520 Mini Locò handbag campaign, which made a feature of the “v” from “love,” hidden inside the iconic logo of the eponymous accessory. The campaign revolved around the idea of love as a unique declaration between two people. In addition to this storytelling, the campaign’s celebrity partnerships received highly positive feedback from netizens. The video, featuring brand ambassador Lay Zhang and singer Jessica Jung, deciphers the message of love for this special occasion. The hashtag #LayZhangJessicaJung garnered 100 million views on Weibo in one day, making it one of the top 3 hottest topics on May 10.
The OTB Group-owned avant-garde label launched a New Lock handbag exclusive to China. The item debuted in Maison Margiela 2022 Avant-Premiere Spring-Summer collection, decorated with an “I love” twist locker and pistachio green leather.
The special edition of the accessory’s twist locker contains multiple sets of character strings with love-themed connotations. When the bag is locked, “I love” will be seen; when unlocked, there are various choices such as “You,” “The Earth,” “My Cat,” and “Maison Margiela.” This dedicated design not only showcases the house’s commitment to the Chinese market, but also expands the boundaries of what “love” can mean — a gentle manifesto of diversity.