The world’s top luxury brands are constantly on the search for the perfect China brand ambassadors, but finding the right celebrity is only half the work. One company that appears to have this figured out is Jaguar: a recent social media campaign by the luxury automaker was able to merge David Beckham’s China star appeal and the power of China’s internet to create a viral sensation.
The carmaker just announced last week that its new brand ambassador is global soccer star David Beckham, but was able to use social media to build up hype long before the official unveiling.
In a WeChat and Weibo campaign entitled “Calling for Answers to Mr. Jaguar’s Identity” (#捷豹先生征集令#), the brand called on users to guess who the next ambassador of Jaguar would be for the chance to win prizes or a meeting with the mystery man himself. By dropping hints like, “He’s powerful and charming… and his appearance will always make people scream,” and posting street interviews, the company was able to build up suspense before the big reveal.
On Weibo and WeChat, users had the chance to vote in a poll asking who they thought the new “Mr. Jaguar” was and why. In addition to being able to win bags and fragrances, the top two answers would get a chance to meet him in person in Beijing on April 19.
Jaguar’s efforts definitely paid off with this campaign—it attracted over 50,000 reposts on Weibo alone when it started, and since Beckham’s endorsement was announced last week, it has attracted over 30,000 reposts. In addition to Beckham, users narrowed the nominees down to Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch and 007 star Daniel Craig, all popular British icons in China that many users clamored for a chance to meet. Many users noted that unlike the other nominees, David Beckham had made attempts to establish a presence in China, and hence deserved to win. “Last year, all three of Beckham’s visits to China had a great impact; therefore, he’s definitely the one to pick,” said one Weibo user.
The campaign is heavily centered around promoting Jaguar’s British heritage, which to many Chinese consumers brings to mind the class and elegance of a British gentleman. “British style” was highlighted when Beckham was named Jaguar’s ambassador, and many users talked about how well his modelling work goes with the brand. Others discussed his rugged good looks, and some were just there for a chance to win a prize.
Jaguar has been carefully crafting its brand image of being a premium British car brand (despite the fact that it has been owned by Indian Tata Motors since 2008). By aligning itself with popular British icons, such as James Bond and the movie Skyfall in 2013, Jaguar has been able to ride the wave of China’s fascination with the British style.
There is a certainly some “British fever” going on in China—soccer is one of the most supported sports in the country, and British fashion brands such as Burberry are doing well despite fears of a slowdown, not to mention the Chinese obsession with British royalty. The Beckham family alone commands its own popularity in China, and as they attempt to raise their “Brand Beckham” profile there, Jaguar’s endorsement is timely for both parties.
As more Western brands start to better understand the Chinese social media landscape, they are starting to get more creative with their marketing campaigns. In order to connect with users and show what they stand for, more companies are likely to create campaigns as elaborate as Jaguar’s in the future.