Lingerie Brand NEIWAI’s Surprising Global Ambassador Wins Social Praise

What Happened: The Chinese lingerie brand NEIWAI announced its new global ambassador, Faye Wong, on August 19, ahead of the brand’s Tmall Super Brand Day on September 25. In the announcement poster, the 51-year-old Wong sports a 999-yuan (about $144) purple merino wool turtleneck, while casually looking down, hands in her pocket.

By the end of the day, the announcement had received an overwhelmingly positive response on both WeChat and Weibo. “This slogan reminds me of what Wong said about being comfortable in her own skin,” one Weibo user wrote while posting a photo of the physical poster she snapped at a shopping mall. While other users commented that “NEIWAI looks like Celine on Wong!”

Faye Wong is a well-known name in the Chinese-speaking world, mainly as a singer and actress in the 90s and the early 2000s. As a Beijing-native who migrated to Hong Kong in her late teens, she sang in both Mandarin and Cantonese, and has appeared in many of the Hong Kong film director, Wong Kar-wai’s, most popular movies like Chungking Express (1994) and 2046 (2004).

Jing Take: In an endless sea of twenty-something-year-old brand ambassadors, NEIWAI’s choice is thoughtful and on-brand. Given that most luxury brands are after the latest “fresh meat” idols, lingerie brands have followed the same pattern in China when it comes to selecting a new ambassador. It’s not uncommon for the likes of La Perla, Wacoal, and Victoria’s Secret to go after Chinese supermodels and young actresses. As for the homegrown brand Cosmo Lady, it replaced the 45-year-old Taiwanese model Lin Chi-Ling with Guan Xiaotong, a 22-year-old svelte actress, which is more in line with the perceived age ceiling of lingerie ambassadors.

Meanwhile, NEIWAI’s on-going marketing message, such as the “No Body is Nobody” campaign launched before the recent International Women’s Day, has been breaking the mold by encouraging diversity and inclusivity. Their latest announcement is an extension of that.

NEIWAI’s ambassador of choice also happens to tap into the current “sister” trend. Given the recent rise of popular TV shows like Sisters Who Make Waves (乘风破浪的姐姐) and Nothing But Thirty (三十而已), there is more recognition of an older women’s struggles and needs, which makes Wong’s independent personal brand image as aspirational as her look.

And finally, one cannot look at the brand’s marketing approach separately from its business plan. Chinese diaspora, who NEIWAI aims to target next with its global expansion, may not know the latest young celebrities, but would see Wong as a familiar face, which could be a comforting entry point for a brand looking to reach a wider, more global customer base.

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.

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