Is Celebrity Endorsement Enough For Brands To Elevate Their China Approach?

The Social Edition is our weekly series which deep dives into luxury initiatives in China’s social media landscape. Every week, we highlight brand campaigns distributed on Chinese digital platforms — WeChat, Weibo, Tmall, Douyin, and beyond.

Our coverage spotlights global luxury brands, global beauty brands, and local Chinese brands. The latter gives insight into some of China’s most successful campaigns, which often come from local players, and are outside of the beauty and fashion space.

In this week’s roundup, we look at three campaigns: from Lanvin’s new brand ambassador to Swarovski’s Double 11 limited editions launch.

Lanvin Announces New Brand Ambassador After Its Shanghai Show

BRAND Lanvin
MEDIUM Imagery
FEATURED TALENTS Yu Menglong (26M Weibo Followers)

On the heels of its Spring/Summer 2021 runway show in Shanghai on October 17, the Fosun-owned luxury fashion house Lanvin announced that actor Yu Menglong would be the brand ambassador for its Babar capsule collection (型象大使). The campaign image of the young talent wearing the Babar capsule collection is a blend of photography and animation and features an elephant illustration sitting on Yu’s shoulder. The image supposedly pays tribute to childhood and Jeanne Lanvin and Jean Brunhoff’s love of children.

The campaign hashtag #LanvinBrandAmbassadorYuMenglong has received over 14 million views, and the announcement has garnered over 51,100 comments thanks to Yu’s huge social following. Comments from the young idol’s fans showed their appreciation for the brand’s collaborating with Yu and shared his street-style photography in the Babar hoodie to show their support.

This appointment is not the first time that the French luxury house has partnered with a young idol to drive social traffic in China. Lanvin appointed male idol Lin Junyan as a spokesperson when the Babar capsule collection was introduced this past May. The announcement of Yu received more social responses than Lin, thanks to the brand’s runway presentation at last week’s Shanghai Yu Garden, which featured a collage of Westen fashion and oriental aesthetics. However, the brand value and identity of the house are vague to local luxury consumers and lacks consistency between its communication strategy and market positioning.

Beauty Brand Blank Me Taps Females’ Self-acceptance 

BRAND Blank Me
MEDIUM Short Video, Imagery
FEATURED TALENTS Cherie (11M Weibo Followers) | Cici Xiang (2M) | Yang Li (906k)

Blank Me, the Korean beauty brand that specializes in professional foundation products, teamed up with three female celebrities — standup comedian Yang Li, model Cici Xiang, and social media influencer and livestreamer Cherie — to explore women’s self-actualization. The campaign, under the theme of “Give the World Your Attitude” (让世界看我脸色), explores the three celebrities’ personal journeys of identity via three short-videos, encouraging females to believe in themselves.
Though the three celebrities’ social following varied in terms of the numbers, campaign engagement has not been directly proportionate to the number of followers. For example, while Yang Li has 906,000 followers on Weibo, her campaign video has received 2.8 million views and the campaign post featuring her has garnered over 4,400 comments with her followers showing support on the partnership.

Global brands walk a fine line identifying the most relevant celebrities and influencers to collaborate with. But unlike well-known beauty brands backed by corporate heavyweights, emerging brands like Blank Me have to team up with smaller influencers instead of idols with huge followings. Many of these smaller influencers, however, have dynamic and personal storytelling that resonates with the general consumers, and many have a more loyal group of followers than some larger celebrities and influencers, which can help spread the brand’s vision without emptying the bank.

Swarovski Leveraged Celebrity Power to Launch “Double 11” Limited Editions  

BRAND Swarovski
PLATFORMS WeChat, Weibo, Tmall
MEDIUM Short Video, Imagery, Livestream
FEATURED TALENTS Wang Yibo (36M Weibo Followers)

Swarovski teamed up with brand ambassador Wang Yibo to launch a “Double 11” limited edition necklace, earrings, two bracelets, a brooch, and a watch. The sets, ranging from $210 to $625, are available on the brand’s offline shops and its Tmall flagship store from October 21 to November 11. The campaign features a series of short films entitled Heartbeat Code starring Wang, who will introduce the new launch.

One of the most popular limited edition sets, including a necklace, a bracelet, and a brooch, has received 1,148 reservations within two days of presale. The WeChat campaign post has received over 20,400 views and the campaign hashtag has garnered over 23 million views. Wang Yibo’s fans commented below the social post on Weibo with the screenshots of their order confirmation pages to showcase their support to the idol’s endorsement.

The family-owned crystal maker has experienced a rough time during the ongoing pandemic, from store closures to job eliminations. However, the main pain point for the brand in China is whether local consumers still want Swarovski. With challenges from not only higher-end jewelry brands but also emerging homegrown designer brands that target the accessible luxury market, Swarovski needs to reconstruct its consumer-facing business to resonate with younger Chinese consumers. While leveraging a celebrity endorsement is seen more as a stalling tactic to drive social traffic and sales, a medium-long strategic shift, from brand positioning to channel optimization, awaits to be made to seize the market share that has been diluted.