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INSIGHTS | Celebrity Endorsement Dilemma in China Marketing

In China's market, where the traffic is the king, brands looking to gain widespread attention often consider seeking endorsements from popular celebrities as an indispensable option. However, some smart consumers may not necessarily buy into this trend.

In this article, Double V Consulting will explore various aspects of celebrity endorsements:

● Why are consumers increasingly averse to celebrity endorsements?

● Positive and negative examples of celebrity endorsements.

● Is it still necessary for brands to have ambassadors? 

● What alternatives do brands have to gain public visibility and break out of the circle?





Recently, Luckin Coffee named Chinese star Jackson Yee as its global brand ambassador. The choice is likely due to his large fan base and significant purchasing influence. While fans are excited, regular consumers remain unconvinced.

▲ Image via Xiaohongshu

Jackson Yee’s followers’ positive comments

& non-supporters’ negative comments

Why Averse to Celebrity Endorsements?

Consumers are Becoming Smarter

With more transparency in marketing, consumers believe that high fees paid to celebrities for endorsements end up being passed on to them.

Budget-Conscious Consumers Want Cost Efficiency

Luckin Coffee has become a national coffee brand, thanks to its affordability and frequent product updates. Priced at just 9.9 RMB per cup, it appeals to many budget-conscious consumers. For these price-sensitive consumers, the ambassador is less important than the product itself. High value for money is the key reason why consumers become loyal to the brand.

Some Go Crazy Some Remain Skeptical

In recent years, China's entertainment industry is experiencing positive changes, reducing the influence of celebrities with questionable behaviors or scandals. People trust these celebrities less, and consumers become more skeptical about brands that work with them for endorsements.

While celebrities can bring traffic, we have also seen some of them facing downfalls due to personal scandals. 

As a result, many brands are now exploring athlete endorsements as a fresh approach, moving away from heavy reliance on celebrities from entertainment industry.




Case 1 Chusovitina × Florasis

Florasis, a Chinese makeup brand with a focus on oriental aesthetics, faced controversy when Austin Li, whom they have a deep collaboration, made disrespectful remarks, attributing consumers' inability to afford a 79 yuan eyebrow pencil to their lack of effort (Double V Consulting has discussed this case before. Click here to see our comments). 

In response, Florasis partnered with Olympic champion Oksana Chusovitina to convey resilience and courage during this public relation crisis. However, opinions on this collaboration are mixed.


Right Trend

Florasis wisely chose the significant timing of the Asian Games to ride on the trend.

Powerful Figure

Florasis picked a respected female athlete, Oksana Chusovitina, as the ambassador. Born in 1975, Chusovitina is a legendary gymnast with an inspiring story, having participated in 8 consecutive Olympic Games from 1992 to 2020. Her remarkable achievements make her an inspirational figure in the Olympic Games. An ambassador with a successful and inspiring image is vital for the brand.

Wave of Chinese Fashion

Florasis shot a video called "Elegant Chinese Makeup" with traditional Chinese elements, showcasing the mix of Eastern and Western cultures.


Mismatched Makeup

They awkwardly applied the trendy makeup style seen on Chinese chic girls to a foreign athlete's face. The overall look lacked harmony with Chusovitina's unique features, resulting in a weird effect.

Unresolved Scandal's Impact

Florasis received negative publicity due to disputes with e-commerce influencer Austin Li, and their inadequate response worsened the situation. The collaboration with Chusovitina was initially intended to demonstrate the brand's resilience during a crisis. However, a makeup creative error in the collaboration led to unexpected outcomes, further harming the brand's image.

Case 2 Chusovitina × Wensli

▲ Image via Wensli

Slogan: Put on the silk, gentle power we've built

The Chinese silk brand Wensli, endorsed by Chusovitina, impresses consumers with its elegant and soft silk products. The advertisement, featuring the agility and strength of the gymnast, is highly praised for its high-fashion elegance compared to Florasis.

Using athletes boosts brand image but poses challenges. High public expectations come with their national prestige. Brands must be cautious in announcements to avoid issues like Florasis's reputation collapse.

Success lies in highlighting athletes' qualities or legends, aligning them with the brand's values. This effectively conveys strength, professionalism, and passion, enhancing the brand's image and product quality.

Case 3 Wang Yibo × Pokémon Trading Card Game

▲ Image via Pokémon Trading Card Game

Wang Yibo endorses Pokémon Trading Card Game

"Pokémon Trading Card Game" has named Wang Yibo as its first ambassador. With 40 million followers, his endorsement video has gone viral, with over 900,000 reposts and 1 million likes. This collaboration is a game-changer for Pokémon Trading Card Game, providing substantial exposure. Wang Yibo's endorsed cards have soared 100 times in value in the Chinese second-hand market, showcasing the global impact and appeal of a well-chosen ambassador.





Do Brands Still Need Celebrity Endorsements?

A brand may benefit from ambassadors in the following situations:

Exposure Maximization

Use ambassadors to quickly gain exposure and enhance brand awareness.

Sales Improvement

Leverage the ambassadors' fan base to broaden the consumer audience and stimulate sales growth.

Brand Transformation

Empower the brand by aligning it with the image and qualities of ambassadors, especially during periods of transition.

How to Choose Brand Ambassadors?

When choosing a brand ambassador, consider the following:

Audience Match

Ensure the ambassador's fan base aligns with the brand's target audience.

Image Compatibility

The ambassador's personality and values should resonate with the brand's image, connecting with the target consumers. A suitable ambassador can enhance brand visibility, drive conversions, and shape the brand's identity.

Shared Values

The brand ambassador should share similar core values with the brand, going beyond symbolism to embody the brand's values in practice.

How to Break Out of the Circle without Celebrity Endorsements?

Mixue Ice Cream & Tea's cartoon character ambassador, Snow King

KFC's vtuber as ambassador Luo Tianyi

lululemon occasionally collaborates with individuals or influencers, featuring unconventional brand representatives.

Without using public figures as brand ambassadors, brands can still choose vtubers, cartoon characters, small to medium-level influencers, and amateur consumers. Even without celebrity endorsements, brands can shape their image through creative strategies like combining intellectual properties and building a diverse product combinationsInnovations in brand strategies, visual design, and product quality can contribute to an all-around improvement, helping the brand to break out of traditional constraints.


With 7 years of experience, Double V Consulting specialize in social media content marketing, influencer marketing, and various strategies in the Chinese market

If you want to boost your brand's influence in China, feel free to connect with us for insights and discussions!


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