Chinese concert pianist Yuja Wang is the latest globe-trotting celebrity to team up with the iconic German luggage brand Rimowa for one of three short films celebrating the company’s 120th anniversary. In a reprise of its global Never Still campaign, Wang joins basketball star LeBron James and Dior Men’s artistic director Kim Jones for intimate glimpses into the challenges of high-level lives on the road.
Wang, a musical prodigy who left her hometown of Beijing at the age of 14 to attend a conservatory in Canada, literally lives out of her suitcase thanks to a nearly non-stop touring schedule that has her performing in six European cities this August alone. Aside from her formidable talent, Wang is also known for bringing her bold sense of style to staid concert halls around the world, favoring body-conscious dresses by Hervé Léger and heels by Christian Louboutin.
In her film, Wang describes how the hardships of life on the road helped her forge a resilient and forward-looking character. “We’re not defined by what we’ve done, but by what we have yet to do,” she states stoically, “by those we haven’t met, by notes we haven’t played.” The short film intersperses archival footage of Wang playing piano as a child on the road in Toronto with recent clips of her on stage. “The relentless pursuit of her dreams through constant travel and new experiences makes her an ideal figure to feature for the campaign,” said Rimowa in a statement.
The series of short films follows up on the success of last year’s Never Still campaign, the first global campaign by Rimowa. That campaign was a joint creation between Anomaly in Berlin and Rimowa’s internal creative team. The first set of subjects featured tennis champion Roger Federer, chef Nobu Matsuhisa, model/activist Adwoa Aboah, Louis Vuitton artistic director Virgil Abloh, and jewelry designer Yoon Ahn.
The title of the series refers to a “fundamental belief that mastery is a never-ending journey and that no one builds a legacy by standing still,” according to Rimowa. “While last year’s campaign framed travel as a facilitator, this year’s films explore how the challenges of being on the road can help strengthen you.”
Wang’s short film is the first in the series spoken in Mandarin. The campaign targets China as one of seven key markets and comes amid a broad effort by the German luggage firm to consolidate its presence in the country (the company was acquired by LVMH in 2016.) Rimowa said it will make a move to control its distribution in tier-one cities and even launched a Tmall store last October. The brand recently saw a healthy sales boost after naming one of China’s most popular young stars, 18-year-old Jackson Yee, as its brand ambassador.
In China, the “Never Still” campaign will be seen in airports, on social media, and through other forms of digital and traditional media, as well as on in-flight entertainment on Cathay Pacific, Air France, and British Airways. Thanks to the rapid development of mobile-first social media in China, branded content in the form of short films — or “mini-movies” as they’re known locally (品牌微电影 ) — has become a well-established vehicle for merging content with commerce.
And although Chinese brand investment in short films peaked between 2010 to 2013, the trend towards using cinematic storytelling in marketing has remained popular with Western brands. This is especially true in the luxury goods sector, where the higher quality medium of film, when paired with the creative talents of acclaimed directors and celebrities, lends itself well to promoting top-quality products.