From cars to cologne, ads across the world marketing products to men often feature attractive women to send the message that buying the item will impress the ladies. When it comes to companies selling beauty products to women, however, the strategy has always been to use a female model to show how good one can look—until now.
In China, Maybelline is taking a cue from male-oriented ads by using its first male celebrity brand ambassador to sell beauty products to women. The move was likely prompted by the massive popularity of male idols among young women in China, as well as the hope of standing out in a competitive market saturated with female stars and models in cosmetics ads.
The American beauty brand has enlisted Taiwanese pop star and actor Ko Chen-tung—known for his role in the headache-inducing Tiny Times films—to show women not what they can look like, but who they can impress if they buy the brand’s skin-whitening BB cream. The announcement of Ko’s new role is being accompanied by an interactive social media campaign on both Weibo and WeChat, with a QR code for the WeChat account promoted prominently on Weibo.
On Weibo, a campaign asking users to retweet a special hashtag for the chance to win a bottle of the cream or cash looks like it’s working—there have been 30,000 retweets in five days.
Now it’s time for Maybelline to see if the “idol effect” will pay off with big sales. According to Chinese advertising blog Adquan, the question of whether or not it will work is one regarding Chinese women’s main motivation for buying beauty products, asking, “do women mainly buy beauty to make themselves happy, or to impress their objects of affection?”