In October 2016, an uneventful month for the Chinese E-commerce community,
YSL, the luxury cosmetic brand broke the internet by an unconventional Wechat Ecommerce campaign:
Naming – Ask your boyfriend to gift you YSL Star Clash.
YSL Wechat Ecommerce campaign that broke the internet
The campaign started with one influential Wechat account, post a social challenge:
How would your boyfriend react, if you text him to ask for a YSL Star Clash Lipstick as gift?
The challenge was quickly accepted by it’s followers and countless screenshots of the boyfriends response appeared on people’s Wechat feed. Which later on attracted more people to join the campaign.
YSL Star Clash sold out soon after the campaign.
Successful campaign, or losing integrity?
What is interesting is that, whether the campaign is designed by YSL is unknown. However the sexist side of the campaign has been pointed out and criticized pretty quickly by many in the online marketing field.
This campaign is not the first time that YSL’s campaign appeared to be controversial in China.
Back in 2014, YSL Rouge Pur Couture # 52 was said to be the color used in a popular Korean drama, by countless influencers on Wechat, Weibo and other Chinese social medias. Which soon was clarified by the TV channel that, it was another Korean brand they used.
But the rumor didn’t stop spreading among fashion, beauty and entertainment influencers, led to a total sold out of the product and made YSL one of the most well known lipstick brands in China.
The sales of YSL lipstick lines went skyrocking, apart from #52, some of the popular colors on internet were also sold out everywhere, and made to the list of ‘most wanted’ brands for proxy customers.
The other side of the story
Many has suspected that the ‘unintentional viral fame’ of YSL lipsticks was in fact staged, but after all it is a pretty hard case to prove.
Fast forward to 2016, the Star Clash Wechat contest once again put YSL under public eyes.
For most people, the biggest problem with the campaign is overly sexist:
Asking boyfriend for lipstick does not quite qualify as a behaviour of an independent woman, critics claim the campaign doesn’t speak to modern independent women.
Moreover, the ‘campaign’ failed to impress luxury brand buyers, because it is ‘too popular’
How low can the market take
Compare with this side of the wall, regulations for marketing is not as strict.
For example, credit images correctly is not as necessary in China. Daniel Wellington’s official Weibo posts UGC 4-6 times a day, but never credit the creators.
Moreover, one of the biggest issues for Wechat Official Accounts is plagiarism. As a text focused platform, many accounts reported for being plagiarism, including the biggest Wechat influencer – MiMeng, who has been accused for copy ideas from another article.
Apart from these, the market is also less politically correct compare with European or America brand. For example this famous racist washing powder commercial , still can’t believe how racist it is!!
Therefore, Chinese marketers can get away with ideas that will never work in other market. But the question is, how low can you go?
Is being sexist still ok?
Women is the main shopping force in China, thus many campaigns would rather go overboard to make the sales.
Personally, I wonder when this campaigns are designed and implemented, are the people responsible truly not aware of the politic correctness, or are they just hoping that no one would care enough, so they can squeeze out enough insecurity in women, so they will eventually heat the sales target.
The silver lining is, when most of the internet is simply focusing on who’s boyfriend is nice enough to buy their girlfriend a lipstick. There are voices echoing the low standards in the Chinese marketing community.
In conclusion, well done to break the internet and creating sales magic without big expense, although might be not sustainable brand wise.