Zegna Tackles Contemporary Masculinity With Virtual Idol Noonoouri 

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 COS’ tie-up with T Magazine, Zegna’s partnership with virtual idol Noonoouri, and Shiseido’s celebration of its 40th year in China.

COS Tapped Female Creatives To Celebrate International Women’s Day

PLATFORMS Weibo, WeChat, Tmall 
MEDIUM Image, Short-video, Livestream
FEATURED TALENTS Ding Wei (329K Weibo Followers) | Liu Min (97K) | Xie Xin (657K) | Zhu Yu Jie (754K)

To celebrate International Women’s Day, COS, which is owned by H&M Group, launched the “COS Her Stage” campaign along with the “COS Women” capsule collection in China. The Swedish brand collaborated with T Magazine to spotlight four female creative talents and explore blurry social boundaries through the lens of contemporary women. The campaign included livestream sessions on Tmall that invited singer and producer Ding Wei, singer Liu Min, dancer, art director Xie Xin, and curator Zhu Yu Jie to share their journey of self-exploration and take on gender issues.

The campaign hashtag #COSHerStage has garnered nearly 11 million views on Weibo, mainly driven by short videos posted by the featured talents. The campaign post on the brand’s WeChat account has received 29,500 views, with comments on the diverse representation of contemporary females. The selected influencers, even those without cult social followings, were well-recognized by netizens due to the consistency between the brand image and their personalities.

In China, global brands have not been the typical players to fight for consumers’ attention on International Women’s Day, as developing a localized narrative on gender issues is even more challenging than approaching traditional festivals. In COS’ case, however, the label opted to collaborate with local media outlet T Magazine to identify the female KOLs with independent personalities, which helped its campaign reach its target audience. In addition to posting campaign photos, the label conducted in-depth interviews with featured figures to spark dialogue and create organic content for its social followers, helping the brand maintain a loyal and active consumer base.

Zegna Explores Masculinity With Virtual Idol Noonoouri 

BRAND Zegna  
MEDIUM Image, Short-video
FEATURED TALENTS Li Xian (22M Weibo Followers) | Noonoouri (17K)

To promote its Spring 2021 collection, Zegna teamed up with brand ambassador Li Xian and the virtual idol Noonoouri to explore the complexity of contemporary masculinity in a 40-second video campaign, “Men In My Imagination.” The brand hoped to start a broader conversation on this theme and encourage audiences to focus on who they are beyond social boundaries and gender bias.

The topic of “what makes a man” sparked conversations on masculinity, which has been a somewhat controversial topic on China’s social platforms after male public figures with feminine appearances (Little Fresh Meat) were criticized by mainstream media. Meanwhile, the campaign video has received over 22.7 million views since it was released on March 4. Netizens commented that the brand ambassador Li Xian is a perfect representative of a contemporary male who is not simply defined by stereotypical masculinity.

Chinese luxury consumers, especially Gen Z and younger, continue to show a rising awareness of diversity and inclusivity issues. Zegna’s campaigns tapped into this by showcasing various expectations and representations of masculinity from both a male and female point of view. Moreover, by casting the digital avatar Noonoouri, viewers focused more on Li Xian’s actual face and expressions, which helped drive traffic as the majority of Li’s fan base consists of females. Given this, however, we’re not sure how well this approach worked to attract Zegna’s male target audience.

Shiseido Celebrates 40th Anniversary in China with Celebrity Power

BRAND Shiseido 
CATEGORY Cosmetics
PLATFORMS Weibo, WeChat, Tmall 
MEDIUM Image, Short-video, Offline Event 
FEATURED TALENTS Zhang Ziyi (29M Weibo Followers) | Liu Yifei (68M) | Zhao Liying (88M) | Wan Qian (6M) | Huang Xuan (10M) | Li Qin (25M) | Zhang Tian’ai (17M) | Wu Qian (12M) | Li Kaixin (9M)

On March 9, Shiseido celebrated its 40th year in China by lighting up the Bund in Shanghai. Attending the retrospective were ambassadors from various Shiseido sub-brands, each reviewing the brand’s forty-year efforts in the Chinese market, which have shaped the society, environment, culture of China’s beauty sector. Featured celebrities Zhang Ziyi, Liu Yifei, Zhao Liying, Wan Qian, and Huang Xuan spotlighted the group’s commitment to social welfare, sustainability, innovative technology, and women’s empowerment. The group also collaborated with Taobao Juhuasuan — a marketing and group-buying platform for flash sales — to offer consumers special treats.

The campaign hashtag #Shisedo40yearsInChina has received nearly 74 million views on Weibo, with netizens sharing their memories of the Japanese brand, one of the first international beauty conglomerates to enter China’s vast beauty market. Meanwhile, fashion and beauty KOLs like @Yvonne Ching, @MogNotMushroom, and @GirlLisa posted videos and photos from the offline event in Shanghai, which drove substantial social traffic for the campaign.

Shiseido has built a solid reputation in China over the past four decades thanks to its proactive social responsibility, as well as its innovative and resilient market strategies. The anniversary-focused campaign — which was a retrospective of the group’s history, corporate values, and visions rather than a simple product showcase — was leveraged by Shiseido’s extensive celebrity endorsements. And by bringing together the many faces of Shiseido’s sub-brands, it was able to strengthen its brand portfolio and market awareness, ranging from personal care to prestige skincare, among local beauty shoppers.


Beauty, Fashion