What Happened: Right after its Paris fashion show was interrupted by a protestor who walked onto the catwalk carrying a sign that read “Overconsumption = Extinction,” Louis Vuitton named Netflix hit series Squid Game star HoYeon Jung its global brand ambassador for the house’s three main lines: fashion, jewelry, and watches.
The news quickly sparked interest on the Chinese internet. Although Netflix is not accessible in China, interest in the South Korean survival drama has exploded there. The hashtag #鱿鱼游戏# (#SquidGame#) has racked up more than 1.7 billion views. Meanwhile, Jung quickly amassed 14 million followers overseas on Instagram. Given her resonance with a local and global audience, the actress seems a perfect addition to the luxury house’s impressive list of ambassadors, which already boasts the popular K-Pop band BTS.
The Jing Take: High-performance names are rare, and numerous rival brands are eyeing rising stars’ influence. In fact, Louis Vuitton had to act quickly to secure a shoot with HoYeon Jung. However, the title given to this young actress is substantial and raised many netizens’ eyebrows. Since the loss of Kris Wu, the former Louis Vuitton menswear global ambassador, Chinese consumers have been guessing which local celebrities would be appointed as the brand’s next spokesperson (or which of the current ones would get upgraded to a global title). But instead, new Korean names were added to the Maison’s endorsement list.
With Korean idols carrying more weight than Chinese stars, netizens have started disclosing that they are upset with brands for valuing Korean stars more — not just Louis Vuitton but Dior, as well. Some complained about Dior’s Spring 2022 show in Paris because it invited Blackpink member Jisoo to attend but had only two domestic actresses involved in the livestream among all its ambassadors.
Yet, following the government crackdown on China’s entertainment industry, many brands chose to start distancing themselves from Chinese superstars, who have a massive following in the country but lack resonance internationally. Given this issue, it seems reasonable that brands would opt for Korean celebrities, who are increasingly enjoying international fame. Nonetheless, that may leave space for domestic brands to take on national names, grow their influence in the country, and stir up patriotic feelings among local consumers. But global labels must cautiously map out their next steps in this highly “irritated” market.
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.