What Happened: On July 10, Prada became the official partner of the Chinese Women’s National Football Team. The Italian luxury house will provide outfits for the 23 players and representatives during their travel and formal event appearances.
The announcement comes as the team heads down to Australia to play in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which begins on July 20. In the campaign, all the team members sport black Prada blazers and pants, white shirts, and Prada loafers.
Nicknamed “Steel Roses,” the Chinese Women’s National Football Team has a strong reputation in China. Last year, the female squad won the Asian Cup. As Prada said in a statement, “The China Women’s Football team has forged a global reputation and is a source of inspiration for young female athletes, focusing public and institutional attention on a democratic and inclusive sport.”
The Jing Take: The announcement has received an overwhelmingly positive response from Chinese netizens. On Weibo, the hashtag “This time, Prada picked the right person” topped the Hot Search List with over 470 million views. Weibo user @小米大咖 commented: “Give up the entertainment industry, embrace the world of sports. Chinese female national soccer team is definitely reliable.”
Not only is the initiative strengthening Prada’s links with China’s sports industry, but it is also helping the brand shrewdly navigate through yet another celebrity PR crisis.
Last month, Prada global brand ambassador Cai Xukun was embroiled in a sex scandal. The Prada spokesperson had played a pivotal role in helping the brand to reach local Gen Z shoppers, who consistently contribute to luxury growth.
When the backlash was exposed, Chinese netizens joked about Prada’s unfortunate luck with picking local ambassadors. Prada’s past ambassadors, Ke Zhendong, Zheng Shuang, and Li Yifeng, have all left the entertainment industry due to controversies. Cai Xukun’s event further highlights the risk involved when leveraging traffic idols.
In light of this, Prada is diversifying its roster with relatively safer faces: athletes. In May, the house named homegrown basketball player Yang Shuyu as its latest brand ambassador. Last year, it tapped Olympian and table tennis player Ma Long.Prada’s partnership with China’s Women’s National Football Team comes at a perfect time to help the brand revamp its image and be associated with positive and healthy values. Chinese shoppers take pride in seeing brands embracing national symbols of excellence.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.