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 Tod's newly appointed brand ambassador, the reiteration of Prada's statement Galleria handbag, and Acne Studios' launch of music Mini Program.
WeChat, Weibo, Little Red Book
Image, Short video
Xiao Zhan (29M Weibo Followers)
On May 19, the Italian luxury house Tod’s announced the appointment of Chinese male idol Xiao Zhan as a brand ambassador on its social channels. The brand stated that Xiao was chosen to interpret the house’s classic Italian DNA with a low-key, elegant, and gentlemanly image. The campaign video features the brand’s T Timeless belt bag and classic loafer in black.
Respectively, the campaign hashtags #TODSBrandAmbassador and #战放前行 (Bloom and Moving forward) received 380 million and 180 million views on Weibo within six hours. Xiao Zhan, who owns a cult social following of 29 million users, drove huge engagement for the campaign launch. The featured T Timeless belt bag sold out within 10 minutes on Tmall. Netizens commented that his personality and appearance perfectly match the brand.
Xiao Zhan was embroiled in a controversy one year ago that rocked netizens across China’s internet. A cyberwar against Xiao fans also led to a boycott of the brands that collaborated with the idol, including Estée Lauder, Piaget, and Cartier. Many luxury players have been discerning about selecting their partners since then but are still betting on the power of fan culture. In Tod’s case, Xiao’s endorsement will help the brand reinvigorate its brand image and allow it to reach a broader youth audience.
Weibo, Little Red Book, Douyin
Image, Short Video
Jin Chen (12M Weibo Followers) | Chun Xia (2M) | Song Jia (13M) | Yang Chao Yue (17M) and twenty more female celebrities
On May 21, Prada initiated a campaign focusing on a single product — the Galleria Bag — on social channels including Weibo, Little Red Book, and Douyin. The iconic handbag, conceived in 2007, was one of the “IT” bags to become popular among Chinese millennial luxury shoppers and has been dubbed “the killer bag” in China. The global campaign stars American actress Hunter Schafer and is directed by Xavier Dolan, and its China effort features extensive celebrity endorsements consisting of over twenty female faces.
Though the Galleria Bag was a hero product for Prada, Gen-Z consumers are not as familiar with it as their older counterparts. However, thanks to the substantial social followings of all the campaign's featured celebrities (roughly 200 million followers), the campaign hashtag #PradaGalleriaHandbag has garnered over 6 million views on Weibo as of publication.
Prada is now a discerning luxury player after creating “IT” bags in the past two years. From the Re-edition series to its new Cleo bag, the house has successfully become the go-to silhouette for fashionistas by rebranding the House's legacy and leveraging its celebrity power. To re-promote its statement bag, Prada is adopting a similar approach. Yet, the re-emergence of the handbag still reminds consumers of the old days when Prada was not as hip as today. If the campaign can twist its rigid and dull stereotypes via this handbag, perhaps it can win the approval of the market.
Image, Mini Program, Short video
Zhao Hong @小老虎jfever (403K Weibo Followers) | ChaCha (348K) | @MerryLambLamb (5811)
Swedish luxury fashion brand Acne Studios unveiled its latest Fall/Winter 2021 Face collection this May. The brand kicked off a music WeChat Mini Program on May 13 named “Face Beats Recording Room,” where users can generate and share their personalized rhythm created by themselves. The independent music producer Zhao Hong (@小老虎jfever), @ChaCha, and @MerryLambLamb were each invited to share their demos on the WeChat campaign post.
The two campaign posts on WeChat have received combined views of 27,000 as of publication, and two campaign short videos have received nearly 8,000 views on Weibo, indicating relatively poor social traffic compared to other brands' digital campaigns. Though Acne's Mini Program launch marks the brand’s first foray into UGC marketing, limited netizen awareness impeded user engagement for the game.
Digital transformation has become an irresistible trend in post-pandemic retail. Despite being a low-profile luxury designer brand in the China market, Acne Studios needs these digital campaigns to maintain its relevance with local shoppers. In this campaign and its H5 mini-game, the brand’s iconic face motif features highly, helping the brand consolidate its image among returning customers while elevating conversion rates.