L’Oréal-owned luxury beauty and skincare brand Helena Rubinstein rolled out a series of campaigns in September in celebration of its 120th anniversary. In addition to telling the story of how it was founded in 1902 and the revolution of its signature face cream, the label released a short video starring global ambassador Faye Wong that was produced by world-famous Chinese film director Wong Kar-wai. Alongside the digital initiatives, Helena Rubinstein kicked off a tour of pop-up exhibitions across China, with the first taking place in Hangzhou from September 15 to 21.
The casting of the brand campaign has excited Chinese audiences, especially millennials who grew up with Hong Kong films. Films Chungking Express and 2046 featuring the Cantopop queen and directed by Wong were blockbusters in the 1990s and 2000s, respectively. The campaign video for Helena Rubinstein marks their first collaboration in 18 years.
Named “Beauty Beyond Time,” the one-minute film spotlights the brand’s iconic Re-plasty Age Recovery Cream. The teaser posted on Weibo on September 5 attracted 11.4 million views, with comments expressing expectations of a comeback from the elusive star who rarely engages in brand partnerships.
Nostalgia can be not only about childhood memory but also recreation. In Helena Rubinstein’s anniversary celebration, the label marries nostalgia marketing and celebrity endorsement to maximize its social buzz, which has paid off. The classic music and film works of the 53-year-old singer and actress have been branded in the memories of many Chinese millennials.
Since the appointment of Faye Wong as global ambassador in 2019, the Polish beauty brand has steadily built its awareness in the Chinese market. Unlike other players scrambling for young faces who can fuel immediate social traffic, Helena Rubinstein instead focuses on celebrities that can represent the brand’s values and best convey the story its classic products, which ensures the retention of its core customers who have demands for anti-aging.
However, a conservative celebrity partnership approach does not mean overlooking the younger demographics. In June, the beauty veteran joined hands with local coffee chain brand Manner Coffee to launch a campaign that celebrates youth, drawing inspiration from its hero skincare product, Powercell Skinmunity Serum. Though the collaboration did not feature any celebrity endorsements, it drove substantial organic traffic on social media, thanks to the popularity of Manner Coffee among young consumers.