Dior Beauty Campaign Exploits China’s Urban Pollution Numbers

Site Displays Particulate Matter Ratings Alongside Skincare Recommendations

A screenshot from Dior's new mini-site, which emphasizes skin damage that results from pollution. (Dior)

A screenshot from Dior’s new mini-site, which emphasizes skin damage that results from pollution. (Dior)

Everyone knows that the gray, smoggy, and dangerously polluted air in major Chinese cities does no favors for one’s appearance, especially when it comes to skin health. In response, Dior has created a bold mini-site, which promotes its One Essential skincare products to Chinese women concerned about the toll heavy pollution is taking on their skin.

“Smog and sandstorms repeatedly infringe on the skin; among these, the greatest danger is PM2.5,” reads the site’s section on Beijing, referring to the fine particulate matter that regularly reaches hazardous levels in the city. “Its diameter is smaller than the size of your pores and it is able to directly enter your skin, causing persistent damage. In January 2013, Beijing’s smoggy weather accumulated for as much as 25 days.”

The online campaign is in direct response to China’s major air pollution problems, which are a concern not only for residents’ respiratory health, but also for more cosmetic issues. One of the most striking features of the site is a particulate matter rating for each city that is provided upon completion of a short survey of age, location, and main skin concerns, which comes alongside personalized product recommendations. Considering the fact that the U.S. embassy previously generated major controversy and was denounced by the Chinese government when it started publishing Beijing pollution numbers, this is quite a daring move for the Parisian brand.

One part of the site features Chinese cities' particulate matter ratings alongside personalized product recommendations. (Dior)

One part of the site features Chinese cities’ particulate matter ratings alongside personalized product recommendations. (Dior)

The site also features a commercial discussing its skincare line as the solution to issues such as “pollution,” “ozone,” and “toxins,” individual descriptions of environmental skin damages in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai complete with smoggy pictures, and an interview with a dermatologist.

Despite these gloomy figures, the overall feel of the ad is a romanticized, cosmopolitan notion of city life everywhere as invigorating and enjoyable in spite of  its everyday stresses. The commercial is shot in Paris in order to both emphasize Dior’s brand heritage and make Chinese urban women feel as though they are part of a global demographic which shares their concerns. The website’s copy conveys these themes:

I adore my city, I reside here; the city adds inspiration to my life and gives me energy. Whether it’s rushing to an appointment, touring an exhibit, going to a concert, or having tea with friends, I’m always busy, and city life is brilliant and varied. Paris, Shanghai, London, Tokyo, New York, Rome… there’s not one of them that doesn’t attract me. It’s just… the air in cities is harmful to my skin. Pollution, pressure, fatigue, UV rays… I definitely want to escape them!

Excluded from the ad are mentions of particulate matter ratings of the non-Chinese cities listed, which would illuminate the fact that in terms of typical urban stresses, China is far above its counterparts when it comes to pollution.

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Beauty, Market Analysis