Communication managers in the China press office of European luxury houses are now competing on who can achieve the highest views on Chinese social media platforms, as big editors and brand ambassadors canceled their trips due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Dior is the biggest winner in the emerging online battle. Despite a 3.5 million following, more than 12 million people watched its livestream of the fall 2020 collection and more than 100 million posts mentioned the livestream on Weibo, China’s own Twitter.
The Parisian couture house engineered a huge campaign to promote its livestream on Weibo. Six of its brand ambassadors, six top influencers and 16 fashion industry leaders participated and asked their followers to watch the show in real time. The six ambassadors alone have a following of over 250 million users.
Its Weibo post had 201,000 reposts and 397,000 likes, thanks to a slew of top Chinese fashion editors, influencers, and celebrities, including brand ambassadors Liu Wen, Cecilia Liu and Victoria Song and their fans, actively engaging online.
Angelica Cheung, editorial director of Vogue China said to her followers on Weibo that “Chanel is live-streaming its fashion show for the first time. Let’s wait till it starts at 5:30 and we can all sit at the front row. Can’t wait to find out what it feels to watch the show online.” She finished the sentence with a cuddle, a handshake and a rose emoji. Cheung also shared her experience watching the Chanel show from her laptop via Instagram Stories.
A communication manager from a luxury brand’s China office, who requested anonymity, said unless the brand is very powerful and has a good relationship with the press and celebrities, like Dior and Chanel here, celebrities and influencers won’t participate in the campaign for free, as most of the time brands have no budget for this.
While live-streaming has been around for a few years, it’s seen as a regular digital offering. It wasn’t until this season that it is becoming a competition for brands in China.
Other French luxury houses, such as Valentino, Givenchy, Balenciaga and Hermès have been slow to the new development in China’s fast-changing digital landscape. Their live-stream posts only had single to mid-double digit reposts and likes. Even Louis Vuitton only had 234 reposts and 783 likes with its live-streaming post on Weibo.
In Milan,16 million Chinese followed the live-streaming of shows, as a part of the “China, we are with you” project that Camera della Moda partnered with Tencent.
The initiative was set up to live-stream the shows, create dedicated social media platforms to comment on the collections and ad-hoc videos, backstage content and interviews to allow Chinese buyers and designers to partake remotely in the fashion experience.
But on each individual Italian brand’s Chinese social media channel, the number differed greatly.
Gucci and Tod’s are the top performers. Gucci’s live-stream post on Weibo had 5,758 reposts and 107,000 likes thanks to fans of South Korean singer-songwriter Lee Ji-eun, or known professionally as IU who attended the show, relentlessly commenting and reposting it. Tod’s post had 5,400 reposts and 3,718 likes.
While Prada’s live-stream post only had 42 shares and 251 likes, Giorgio Armani’s post had 5 reposts and 43 likes, and Ferragamo’s post only had two reposts and 16 likes.