What Happened: The face of Bulgari and Roger Vivier, Chinese A-list actor Deng Lun was fined $16.6 million (RMB 106 million) for tax evasion by local tax authorities on March 15. The news immediately became a Weibo hot topic, garnering 2.6 billion views so far.
According to the Fourth Inspection Bureau of Shanghai Taxation Bureau, Deng Lun made false declarations through fictitious businesses to mask the nature of his income between 2019 and 2020. The evaded personal income tax was $7.47 million (RMB 47.6 million) and other underpaid personal income tax amounted to $2.18 million (RMB 13.9 million).
The 30-year-old star, renowned for the hit series Ashes of Love, reportedly endorses 23 brands, including global names L’Oréal, Bally, Roger Vivier, Bulagri, etc.
The Jing Take: After Cherie and Viya, Deng is the next big name to be caught by China’s celebrity tax crackdown. The personality is likely to face being “canceled” like his predecessors. So far, the star’s Douyin and Weibo accounts have been blocked. Both pages are now showing as unavailable due to a violation of regulations.
Deng’s behavior — compounded by the wide wealth gap between the VIP and ordinary Chinese workers — has triggered general public anger. In light of this, local labels and companies (Yunmi, Jiujiuya, and Cainiaoguoguo) have rushed to announce the termination of their partnerships with him.
However, luxury Maisons have been less proactive. L’Oréal and Roger Vivier have deleted Deng’s related posts — but as yet have made no statement in this regard. Bally and Bulgari, on the other hand, were slower to wipe Deng off their feeds. As a result, thousands of furious netizens demanded the brands end their collaborations with the “wrongdoing” actor. Some even went so far as to threaten a boycott.
A late response to a PR crisis can get brands into serious trouble. They need to be quicker off the mark next time (and, one thing’s sure — there will be a next time). Faster decision-making processes, preparation, and contingency plans are required, as this is just the beginning of a long list of scandals from soon-to-be-outed “wrongdoing” celebrities.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.