2 Main Mistakes of Chinese Celebrities Endorsement in China

In the 21st century, China is home to four major social media outlets: DouYin, WeChat, Xiaohongshu and Weibo. We often see trends in the fashion world on these platforms, and there is no doubt that many luxury brands are scrambling to announce their “brand friends” on these platforms, and surprisingly, the products are being bought in droves, backed by a strong following. Chinese celebrities can drive high sales, whether they are brand ambassadors or proposing a new style incorporating a fashion brand.

What is a Traffic Star (流量明星)?

Traffic star, also known as “flow star”, mainly refers to those popular celebrities, with many fans. There is a strong appeal to young artists, in the mobile era, with a great flow. In the digital world, “flow” refers to the number of visits (popularity) and the exposure they can generate. They can be popular singers or popular movie stars. In a word, a flow star is just a different era of different names.

In China, another major factor in whether a star is popular or not, is his/her ability to bring in goods, which means, how much they can really cash in when they are endorsing brands or bringing in goods live.

Chinese Celebrities Can Carry Strong Good Sales if You Avoid These Mistakes

In mainland China, Chinese celebrities generate thousands of millions of sales. When they were a fashion outfit at the airport, on a red carpet, or in a regular post on social media. Chinese followers keep their eyes on them to follow the latest trendy bags, shoes, sunglasses, or outfits. When you want to scale up your sales and exposure in China, the right step to take is to have a Chinese ambassadors but international brands often do several mistakes. We have selected the TOP2 mistakes to avoid to help you in your marketing in China.

Mistake 1: Choose a Brand Ambassador Already Overwhelmed

Among them, the 18-year-old “talented double-boarder” Gu Ailing won a gold medal for the Chinese sports delegation at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the first gold medal ever won by a Chinese team in a women’s snow sport at the Winter Olympics.

chinese celebrities endorsement

In addition to that, she is also a rising favorite of fashion and luxury brands of the moment. Up to now, there are about 14 fashion and luxury brands that have reached brand endorsement or partnership with Eileen Gu, not including endorsements in various other fields such as food and health, home, communication, finance, etc. In fact, Eileen Gu is currently working with a total of 30 brands, far more than many first-tier stars.

Undoubtedly, these brands have chosen her because they have found huge business opportunities in her as a Chinese athlete. Since, in recent years, many entertainment stars have been caught in a credibility crisis, this has led to a great risk for luxury brands to use people who could lose money if they are not careful.

Then sports stars are more popular, and Gu Ailing happens to be another one whose appearance conditions are very fashionable. With her excellent strength, superb face, excellent bilingual ability, and multicultural background, as well as her multiple identities as an athlete, Stanford University senior and IMG contract model, she has quickly become the focus of fashion and luxury brands’ attention. In January this year, Little Red Book also officially announced Eileen Gu as their brand spokesperson.

She has attracted many offers from luxury brands in the past year, including becoming an IWC ambassador and Tiffany global spokesperson, appearing in Louis Vuitton’s Twist handbag campaign, participating in BrunelloCucinelli’s Be Your In September 2021, she appeared on the MET Gala red carpet. Even though she can be great for brand image, the ROI is affected by the number of brands she is currently endorsing. If she happens to talk about your brand, your exposure will not be as high as a brand ambassador with a contract of exclusivity.

Mistake 2: Have the Same Brand Ambassador as your Competitors

In July 2022, both Longines and Daniel Wellington announced Luo Yizhou as their brand spokesperson in mainland China. The two brands are both watches brands, fighting in the same highly competitive industry, with totally different price positioning.

Luo Yizhou is a Chinese dancer and singer, member of the group IX FORM. He entered a famous idol survival program on iQiyi and get a strong recognition on the entertainment stage. He is pretty, he took ballet classes and taekwondo classes for 11 years, he sings well, and he has a great fashion taste. Naturally, luxury and fashion brands fight to get him as a brand ambassador. But what happens is that both Longines and Daniel Wellington disclosed their partnership at the same time. This marketing campaign is confusing in terms of brand image since these watches leaders are positioned on the same person. For the final Chinese consumer, purchasing a DW watch is as much premium as purchasing a Longines watch.

How Should You Choose your Chinese Celebrity?

Choosing to enter the Chinese market means choosing the rules of the game that belong to China. So, it needs

Step 1: Brand Building in China

Understanding the nature of the brand, its positioning and target audience is the core of marketing. For example, there are many fast fashion, luxury and other fashion brands entering the Chinese market, they are mainly located in the young market, looking for endorsement should choose the popular idol stars.

Step 2: Celebrity’s Selection Based on Brand Image

Based on the market positioning, brands should also look for celebrities whose image and temperament match the brand. In fact, brand endorsement is to a large extent to borrow the image of celebrities so that the brand personality can be interpreted in concrete terms, so the more the brand and the celebrity match in terms of temperament, the better. The cooperation between Gu Ailing as a sports star and LV has helped more women to establish the idea of healthy beauty, which is also supported by many Chinese women.

Visibility and attention are important criteria for brands to select spokespersons. If you are a young brand, then it is recommended that you choose new generation flow stars who are hot and highly exposed nowadays as their fame and fans can bring great benefits to brand marketing. At the same time, while doing a good background check, you must also consider whether the spokesperson has a scandalous black history so that the subsequent PR work can be carried out properly. Before starting, you can implement a quick celebrity audit in China.

Step 3: Build a Strong Online Reputation in China

Reputation is crucial in China, and it is precisely because of the scandals that many brands get caught up in that they leave a lot of bad impressions on the internet, which leads to difficulties in promoting their brands. Therefore, it is vital to improve your online reputation, and you can enhance your brand reputation in China by publishing positive content through Baidu’s encyclopedia (the equivalent of Wikipedia). As Chinese search engine Baidu is one of the most powerful search engines, content posted on its own channel is likely to rank highly in search results, putting you directly in front of potential customers.

Zhihu is also an important platform in China, where the Q&A model can help consumers make purchasing decisions, where they look for products to trust and constantly evaluate them, and where the brand’s reputation on Zhihu plays an important role.

Case Study: The Celebrity Endorsement for Volley x GMA

Volley is an Australian lifestyle brand that offers different types of clothing and apparel brands, mainly targeting the millennial generation.

We worked with the Australian brand Volley to help them increase their brand awareness, reputation, and visibility among Millennials, and more importantly, to help them develop their business in China. To increase Volley’s brand awareness and e-reputation, we launched a massive social media campaign. Careful management of WeChat and Weibo accounts, regular posting of relevant content, and extensive interaction with followers have greatly enhanced the company’s reputation. In 2016, the brand volley was not yet well known in China, but that year, the small white shoes were a huge hit.

The reason was that Chinese singer-songwriter and actress Faye Wong was spotted at the Hong Kong airport while she was in the middle of a high-profile divorce case. She was wearing a white t-shirt, jeans, and a pair of Volley shoes worth AED 85. As a result, fans went on a buying spree and sales of the Volley’s soared, crashing the servers.

Then, the Australian company began selling Volley’s shoes in China for more than three times the price in Australia, which created an unexpected business opportunity for Volley.

Looking for a Chinese celebrity? You can contact us

GMA, based in Shanghai, is a company specializing in digital marketing. Because we understand how to effectively market your company in China based on the market and Chinese consumers, we have created numerous successful projects. If you are confused about “not sure how to choose a Chinese spokesperson for your brand?” Then we will not only help you with the selection process, and background check but also recommend the right candidate and budget planning.

For further information, feel free to contact us.

Leave the first comment