For years, Chinese dramas (also known as C-dramas) have been growing in global popularity. According to an iQIYI survey conducted last year, 76 percent of respondents across 26 countries have begun sampling the genre within the past two years alone. With streaming services such as iQiyi and even Netflix introducing mega-popular homegrown content to audiences worldwide, it is clear that such an increase in on-screen presence creates opportunities for businesses to tap local stars as the next fashion trendsetters in both domestic and global consumer markets.
But not everything seen on TV resonates with social media-savvy C-drama fans. For many netizens, on-screen portrayal must be realistically supplemented through fashion and accessories to complement the storyline, otherwise shows and brands can expect a backlash — such as the trending Weibo #DramaIreSyndrome hashtag, where netizens complained that their favorite narrative failed to live up to conventional wisdom.
Mindful groundwork is required for effective product placement in C-dramas. In order for those of all generations to see themselves mirrored in their favorite actors, natural placement should go hand-in-hand with accepted wisdom, such as the “classroom culture” of luxury hierarchy which details characterizations of top labels in a way that consumers relate to.
Nevertheless, when correctly executed, successful seeding and celebrity campaigns can yield a bountiful harvest, whether this means trending pieces for the season or a positive reflection in name, reputation, and recognition.
Here are five of the top TV shows in China for luxury companies to know.
The C-drama series Nothing But Thirty, which first aired in 2020 on Dragon Television and Tencent, follows three vastly different urban women in their thirties as they learn to face the challenges and pressures that come at this crucial stage in their lives. With more than 7.5 billion views on Tencent alone, the show itself has sparked multiple luxury-related discussions in its online audience.
For example, the protagonist Gu Jia, who is portrayed as a successful and independent woman, has inspired many fashion copycats who resonate with her story. Her clothing details (compiled under the hashtag #GuJiaOutfit) has gained 180 million views on Weibo, while her featured fashion and accessories — including a well-placed Tiffany necklace, Dior tee, and Bulgari earrings — immediately became trending pieces.
Launched March 2022, The Oath of Love is a Chinese romance medical drama series featuring megastars Yang Zi and Xiao Zhan. With the accompanying Weibo hashtag gaining 16.2 billion views, the show certainly has the audience for significant brand exposure. In particular, the looks of Xiao’s doctor Gu Wei have encountered astonishing success. On popular lifestyle platform Xiaohongshu alone there are over 1,400 related UGC instances, showing the make of Gu’s garments and accessories that have appeared in the series. Tod’s, Thom Browne, and Acne Studios were the most cited.
Set as a modern drama with the story of grassroots public security efforts, Ordinary Greatness follows four fledgling police officers motivated by a shared sense of achievement and honor. Through its messaging, the series offers a sense of purpose that audience members may identify with and even feel inspired to mirror in their own lives, whether that be through online forum discussions or clothes and accessories. Calvin Klein is one of the many labels featured in Ordinary Greatness.
As an immediately popular historical drama with more than 20 related hashtags trending on Weibo, A Dream of Splendor (or Meng Hualu) features compelling lead women, stunning costume visuals, and a star-studded cast to match. Since its launch on June 2, it already exceeds 1.6 billion plays. With the return of actress Liu Yifei to the historical drama genre after a 16-year hiatus, the Louis Vuitton ambassador and live-action Mulan star is certainly one to watch as she continues to grace the covers of fashion magazines and TV screens alike.
Hanfu made during the Song Dynasty has become a new consumer favorite. According to Xiaohongshu, the search volume of Song-made Hanfu has increased by 41.26 percent month-on-month since the show's launch.
The hugely popular C-drama Reset recently reached a whopping 2.7 billion views, making it one of the most successful shows of 2022 in China. Its compelling plot line involves two young people caught in a time loop that they must try to understand. In addition to the engaging content, netizens also praised the show for its portrayal of the realities of a difficult financial situation through clothing details and other lifestyle markers. So far, the name Montblanc has been spotted on actor Bai Jingting's lenses while new domestic iPhone maker Realme has been seen throughout the show's time loop.
Additional research by Lisa Nan