Ever since Versace’s t-shirt gaffe earlier this week, several top ambassadors have cut ties with brands that seem unclear about where they stand on the issue of Hong Kong’s autonomy. It began with singer and actress Yang Mi’s departure from Versace, but then, supermodel Liu Wen announced that she stopped working with Coach. Shortly after Wen’s announcement, the face of Givenchy beauty in China, Jason Lee, also quit his role. Since then, both Swarovski and Calvin Klein lost their China ambassadors because they listed Hong Kong as a separate country on their respective websites, and the list of Chinese ambassador defections seems to grow daily.
While this issue has left a black mark on these brands’ images, it also puts them in a difficult spot in the market since celebrity exposure is the undisputed best way to take the ‘fast lane’ to success in mainstream China. It may take some time before the above brands can make peace with angry Chinese consumers, but it would behoove them to start looking for fresh names to collaborate with. Below, R3’s June list sheds a little light on some strong newcomers:
The top-two stars on this month’s list are both cast members from the new hit TV show Go Go Squid: Yang Zi and Li Xian. The romantic sitcom, which dominated Weibo’s July trend list, features an upbeat love story between a programmer and a professional online gamer and has become a sweet escape for viewers from the monotony of their real-life workloads.
Playing the pretty computer programmer, lead actress Yang Zi started her acting career at the age of 12 and is already a household name to many in China. But it wasn’t until 2018 that her career peaked thanks to the comedically simple-minded characters she played on a range of popular TV shows. Now she has many loyal fans, and her name has already been associated with several lower-priced brands. As the global spokesperson for Fossil and the ambassador for the cosmetics brand Benefit, Yang Zi is just starting to find her way onto luxury brands’ maps: she was recently invited to Marc Jacobs’ pop-up shop in Beijing in July.
Meanwhile, Li Xian, who plays the cold-blooded gamer with strong feelings for his programmer girlfriend, has won the hearts of throngs of female fans who call themselves “Xian Girlfriends.” His name has been associated with a range of lifestyle brands including Puma, Airbnb, and Avène, but he has yet to work with many luxury brands in an official capacity. But on his personal social media account, his clean, minimalist taste in fashion has earned him a lot of attention from luxury fans.
The third name on July’s list is actor Bai Yu (a.k.a. Jonny Bai), who first became known to the public from his role in the 2018 web series “Guardian.” Bai has the same management company as Li Xian and has appeared on multiple reality TV shows. His most recent sci-fi film, “Looking Up,” scored $38.6 million in its opening frame, according to Variety, and this ‘little fresh meat’ has already captured the attention of the luxury industry, finding his way into Tiffany, Cartier, and Lancôme campaigns.
The following ranking of the 20 top celebrity influencers in June is calculated by using data from Weibo’s Fan Base (calculating Activity, Adorable, and Social Influence Indexes), Toutiao, Baidu, and WeChat.
Weibo assumes the most weight, as it’s the platform where fan engagement can be traced. The Baidu, Toutiao, and Wechat indexes are more based on search behavior. The data from Weibo helps indicate the commercial value of each celebrity, especially for the Adorable Index where fans actually use a pay function to express their admiration for a celebrity.
- Activity Index: The Activity Index counts the number of interactions on Weibo, which is a statistical indicator of interactions (including forwarding, commenting, likes, replying to comments, and comment likes on Weibo) generated by the content posted by the star over the past 30 days (including posts and comments).
- Adorable Index: This refers to the fans’ contribution to the celebrity. Weibo has a mechanism where fans can contribute their admiration to the celebrity by giving virtual flowers which aren’t free. The adorable index is generated from the number of flowers the celebrity receives monthly.
- Social Influence Index: There’s a large number of users publishing microblogs daily that mention celebrities. These microblogs are read by other users, and the number of readings reflects the recent popularity of a celebrity. In addition, a large number of users search for celebrities on Weibo every day, and the search volume generated also reflects the recent popularity of those celebrities. This data adds up to the social influence index of the celebrity.