Bvlgari has appointed Chinese actor Yang Yang, the leading man in one of China’s most popular dramas of the year, “You Are My Glory”, as its newest spokesperson. The move comes after the LVMH-owned jeweller cut ties with the scandal-ridden Kris Wu in July, amid rape allegations.
Bvlgari’s announcement comes during a difficult time for brands to work with Chinese celebrities, who are facing a government crackdown. Authorities have allegedly taken measures to clamp down on their perceived negative influence, from removing their popularity rankings, regulating fan merchandise sales and recently banning “effeminate men and other abnormal aesthetics” on television.
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Earlier in the month, the Chinese government banned the appearance of male celebrities — on both television and video streaming sites — deemed as “sissy men”. Using a Chinese derogatory term “niang pao” — literally “girlie guns” — Chinese cultural authorities explained they were rolling out a rule to purge “morally flawed celebrities” in order to “correct aesthetics” in “performing styles” and “wardrobes and makeups”.
The ban of effeminate men on broadcasting platforms reflects official concern that Chinese pop stars, influenced by the sleek, fashionable look of some South Korean and Japanese singers and actors, are failing to encourage China’s young men to be masculine enough.
Along with that, the broadcast regulator also moved to ban film stars with “incorrect” politics, cap salaries and rein in celebrity fan culture. Television companies and internet platforms were also told to “strictly control the selection of program actors and guests, and uphold political literacy, moral conduct, artistic level and social evaluation as selection standards,” according to a statement from the National Radio and Television Administration.
In line with this, actress Zheng Shuang, was fined 299 million yuan last week on tax evasion charges in a warning to celebrities to be positive role models.
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Bvlgari, which has 2 million followers on Weibo, can leverage Yang Yang’s fan base of 56 million followers. The Italian luxury brand is not alone in recognising this opportunity. Cartier has tapped on Jackson Wang to drive engagement for its Pasha de Cartier campaign, and Tiffany and Co. named Jackson Yee a global ambassador last year.
Recently, Italian luxury house Fendi also appointed Chinese actor Xu Kai its latest brand ambassador. The actor has 17.7 million followers on Weibo and has been collaborating with the brand since 2018. Xu Kai appeared in the brand’s latest campaign for Qixi, one of China’s versions of Valentine’s Day, in August.
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