What Luxury Can Learn From Yuan Bingyan’s Tax Scandal

What Happened: Another celebrity has been fined for tax evasion. The 30-year-old actor Yuan Bingyan, renowned for her leading role in the C-drama ‘Love and Redemption,’ is the latest in a long line of stars (namely Zhao Wei, Viya, and Deng Lun) to be slapped with a penalty by tax regulators — in this case, to the tune of $146,000 (978,000 RMB). On Weibo, the hashtag #Yuan Bingyan’s company fined 978,000 RMB for tax evasion# has topped the microblogging platform’s Hot Search list, racking over 690 million views so far. (In comparison, Yuan’s Weibo has only 15 million followers.)

yuanbingyan-dior

Dior’s Weibo removed new promotional content featuring Yuan on the same day, while angry netizens called for the actor to be banned from online. Image: Weibo

Yuan’s company’s official Weibo put out an apology (for what she claimed to be an oversight) and pledged that the business will strictly adhere to tax laws. But is it enough? Notably, Dior’s Weibo removed new promotional content featuring Yuan on the same day, while angry netizens called for the actor to be banned from online.

The Jing Take: As China’s tax investigation into celebrities and online influencers continues, it is clear that more will be caught in the entertainment industry turmoil. Once identified as ‘wrongdoing’ public figures, their works and commercial endorsements will not be spared. Businesses face huge economic losses. So, is the fan economy still worth it for luxury houses to run such a risk?

Although influencers still offer a fast-track to guaranteed exposure in the mainland, labels’ preference for them has already cooled down. According to data from Shiqu Insight Engine, celebrity-driven marketing events in March 2022 fell by 50.9 percent compared with the same period last year. Correspondingly, collaboration and new product marketing have increased by 91.3 percent and 57.6 percent respectively, while sports-related marketing has risen by 660 percent. More and more companies are willing to choose sports stars as their representatives: to reduce the chance of scandal, while delivering a positive message (and image) to their consumers. 

china celebrity culture crackdown

In the not too distant future, alternative role models and in-house virtual idols are already more viable options. Photo: AYAYI’s Weibo

In the not too distant future, alternative role models and in-house virtual idols are already more viable options. It’s time for brands to dig into these and newer possibilities like these. Otherwise it might be that business as usual is just too risky. 

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.

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