The first half of 2020 was a tough time for luxury brands to roll out new offline campaigns in China, thanks to lockdowns and social distancing measures at public venues. Yet, this dilemma pushed previously conservative luxury players into experimenting with online platforms — from e-commerce to social media — as part of their digital transformation initiatives. And many showed impressive creativity and social consciousness at festivals such as International Women’s Day and 520 Day despite hard times.
As the COVID-19 pandemic in China reached a positive turning point in May and June, physical gatherings resumed, and stores on the Mainland reopened. Since Chinese shoppers’ buying power and demand was resilient after COVID, discerning players like Dior attached greater importance to the region and launched a China-exclusive handbag on its WeChat boutique to celebrate Singles’ Day. Elsewhere, Moncler drove online-to-offline conversions by launching an immersive pop-up exhibition in Shanghai to develop a wider reach to local Gen-Z consumers.
Below are Jing Daily’s picks for the top five luxury brand campaigns of 2020, a year that was a bumpy ride, to say the least. For more of our 2020 year reviews and highlights, read here.
On October 29, Moncler launched a China-exclusive collection called Moncler Young Icons that was tailor-made — from its product development to its social activations — for young, digitally-savvy Chinese consumers. Along with this release, the brand unveiled an immersive pop-up installation created by the Los Angeles-based multi-media artist Reif Anadol called Pladis: Data Universe, which was open to the public October 30 – November 1 at Shanghai Reel Square. In the social arena, the campaign’s 45-second video — starring the three Gen-Z talents actor Shi Pengyuan, dancer Su Lianya, and model Yang Yingge — garnered over 5 million views on Weibo in one week.
On October 13, Dior announced on their official WeChat account that the brand’s first-ever limited Singles’ Day series would be available at their WeChat boutique and website, starting October 15. In addition to jewelry and belts, the launch featured limited-edition handbags made of soft lambskin, bearing the iconic Cannage motif and topstitched with the classic Christian Dior logo. This move was not only the brand’s first Singles’ Day initiative, but it was also the first time a leading luxury brand led a special launch on this popular shopping occasion.
This year’s Mid-Autumn Festival fell on October 1, which is the country’s National Day and the beginning of Golden Week. Therefore, luxury brands leveraged this eight-day national holiday period by delivering specialties to their valued customers and business associates. Compared to previous mooncake iterations, brands showcased more thorough interpretations of Chinese culture and aesthetics this year via their package designs while also incorporating aspects that resonated with younger customers’ appetite for newness. Top performers included Gucci, which drew inspiration from sophisticated ancient Chinese food boxes, and Fendi, which featured the shape of cylindrical lanterns in its designs.
Since China’s businesses and consumer sentiment both gradually recovered beginning in May, discerning luxury players rolled out compelling 520 campaigns instead of the soft approaches of February’s International Valentine’s Day. Originally having grown out of a popular internet slang term that conveys love to a significant other, May 20 has gone mainstream in China, becoming a perfect match for digital campaigns that leverage social marketing. Prada was one of the first and best luxury players to kick off its 520 initiatives in China. With the title Mathematics of Love, its campaign explored love in the context of this post-pandemic era by defining love as both universal and specific, timeless yet also connected to the moment.
In March, brands tapped the occasion of International Women’s Day to reach the growing and desirable women’s market in China. Motivated by female medical workers fighting COVID-19 on the frontlines, Chinese citizens called for more respect and understanding for women. As such, brands adjusted their marketing campaigns to reflect this new awakening of self-empowerment and self-expression. To engage with its independent and growing female customer base, the e-commerce giant Net-A-Porter chose three popular Chinese women — rapper Lexie Liu, comedian Jin Jing, and fashion influencer Ximeng Dasao — to share what it’s like to be a modern woman in today’s China.