Watchmaker Panerai Makes A Digital Leap In China

The Social Edition is our weekly series which deep dives into luxury initiatives in China’s social media landscape. Every week, we highlight brand campaigns distributed on Chinese digital platforms — WeChat, Weibo, Tmall, Douyin, and beyond.

Our coverage spotlights global luxury brands, global beauty brands, and local Chinese brands. The latter gives insight into some of China’s most successful campaigns, which often come from local players, and are outside of the beauty and fashion space.

In this week’s roundup, we look at three campaigns, including Panerai’s appointment of its new brand ambassador, Li Ning’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection presentation, and Tmall’s collaboration with Li Jiaqi to promote Chinese beauty brands.

Watchmaker Panerai Makes A Digital Leap In China

BRAND Panerai
PLATFORMS WeChat, Weibo, Little Red Book, Bilibili, Douyin, Zhihu
MEDIUM Image, Short-video
FEATURED TALENTS Li Yifeng (60M Weibo Followers)

On April 13, Richemont-owned Italian luxury watchmaker Panerai announced Chinese actor Li Yifeng as its brand ambassador in collaboration with fashion media outlet GQ China. The campaign featured seven sections throughout the launch day, including site-specific digital initiatives on social and video-sharing platforms such as Bilibili, Douyin, and Little Red Book. The brand will participate in the Watch and Wonders fair held in Shanghai from April 14 to 18 alongside its newly appointed ambassador.

The one-minute campaign video garnered over 4.9 million views on Weibo within nine hours. The self-dubbed “most playful online launch campaign” drove substantial social traffic, thanks to GQ’s efforts across its social accounts. The campaign video on Bilibili featuring a questionnaire about what watch suits you best also generated high viewer engagement, amassing 819 bullet comments within eight hours.

The Mainland luxury watch market has been one of the few bright spots amid the pandemic gloom, and it has replaced Hong Kong as the top destination for high-end timepieces. Discerning players like Panerai have found new potential among younger Chinese consumers. And through its partnership with GQ China, the brand campaign checked all the right boxes in China’s digital arena. Meanwhile, customizing its content and tone to user preferences and varying platforms allowed it to better resonate with audiences.

Li Ning’s Fall/Winter 2021 Collection Gets Theatrical Presentation

PLATFORMS WeChat, Weibo, Little Red Book, Douyin
MEDIUM Image, Short-video, Livestream
FEATURED TALENTS Xiao Zhan (29M Weibo Followers) | GAI (10M) | Vava  (6M)

Li Ning’s Fall/Winter 2021 Collection was presented in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, on April 7. Featuring the theme of “Enlightenment and Creation  (悟创吾意),” the brand showcased the crossover between art, tradition, and modernity, manifesting a proposition of “remaking” in a theatrical setting. The presentation consisted of live performances and parties, featuring talents like rapper GAI and VAVA, in addition to a catwalk virtually starring brand ambassador Xiao Zhan. Leading livestreamer Viya also broadcasted from the show with a “See now, Buy now” model. Meanwhile, the collection also introduced its collaboration with Jackie Chan, which was inspired by the “Fenglin Volcano” from the classic book, The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

The campaign hashtag #ChinaLiNing2021FW has received over 50 million views in one week. Plus, the video of Xiao Zhan’s runway debut has garnered 2.2 million views thanks to the idol’s cult social following of 29 million. His endorsement not only drove the online traffic of the show, but also strengthened the brand’s image that engages local youth culture. Many netizens also commented that they hope to see Xiao’s presence in the brand’s future presentations.

From the Spring/Summer 2021 presentation at Dunhuang to this season at Zhengzhou, Li Ning has tapped regional cultural landscapes that have shaped Chinese civilization, balancing between heritage and contemporary culture, which resonated greatly with the rising patriotism among today’s Chinese younger shoppers.

Chinese Beauty Brands Redefine “Made In China”

PLATFORMS WeChat, Weibo, Douyin, Little Red Book
MEDIUM Short-film
FEATURED TALENTS Li Jiaqi (29M Weibo Followers)

On April 14, the Tmall Golden Makeup Award and New Media Brand Xin Shi Xiang launched the documentary film “Proudly Made In Chin” to reveal the behind-the-scenes story of the rise of Chinese beauty brands. The film features top livestreamer Li Jiaqi, brands such as Florasis, Perfect Diary, and Colorkey, and venture capitalists who have invested in the sector like ZhenFund, diving into the three key factors facilitating the market: technology, marketing, and channels.

Li Jiaqi’s post of the 14-minute documentary received over 1.2 million views within two days, with comments showing support and adoration for the livestreamer who introduced many Chinese beauty labels to local shoppers. Meanwhile, the launch of a report on Chinese beauty trends, released by Tmall and CBNData, aligned with the documentary and boosted traffic for the campaign’s hashtag, #TheGenerationCreatingHeroProducts, recording 56 million views on Weibo.

This campaign chose to take a B2B approach, focusing on the business side of the sector instead of just its products. The narrative of “Proudly Made In China” challenges the stereotypes of “Made In China,” which resonated with patriotic Chinese consumers amid the current geopolitical business climate. Moreover, the documentary helps Chinese brands build and consolidate their brand image while securing their mutually dependent relationship with Tmall – the country’s most powerful e-commerce platform.