This article was written by Yiling Pan and originally published in Jing Daily
When it comes to targeting millennial and Generation Z (those born from the mid 1990s to the early 2000s) consumers, luxury brands in mainland China often use young celebrities and influencers who are peers of the target demographic.
However, fashion magazine Marie Claire China’s recent campaign has aimed to demonstrate the power of a more mature, “silver generation” of influencers.
A post by the magazine on WeChat – the mainland messaging app – on August 10 sparked huge interest among social media users.
The article introduced eight elderly socialites with Chinese heritage, who will be featured in the magazine’s forthcoming September issue.
Marie Claire China said the article had been viewed more than 600,000 times within 72 hours of it being posted and had been “liked” by nearly 5,000 readers – a record for the publishers of the Chinese fashion magazine.
The eight personalities – whose average age is more than 80 years old – were chosen because of their lifetime achievements in various fields.
Each of them, dressed in an array of luxury fashion brands including Bulgari – the campaign’s official partner – Christian Dior, Chanel, and Celine, has made a rare public appearance to discuss their personal stories.
A post shared by Angelababy (@angelababyct) on Dec 22, 2017 at 12:04am PST
The idea of the editorial has stirred up a highly positive response among members of the mainland’s online community.
Many readers agree that these influencers are role models for today’s youth, and that the stars’ ageless beauty, style and independent spirit will help to inspire future generations.
One comment by “Hongcai sister”, a user of Weibo, the mainland’s microblogging website, wrote: “Each one of the influencers is so fabulous.
“Besides their achievements, all of them are so elegant and confident at their age.
“I hope I will be like them when I am older.”
Another Weibo user, “ElevenAnn” praised the magazine’s bold move to revamp its offerings for an ever-demanding millennial audience in China, and wrote: “A must-buy issue. Marie Claire is awesome.”
Readers have also compared the eight elderly socialites to some of the hottest young Chinese actresses, including Angelababy – the brand ambassador of Dior, Yang Mi, the brand ambassador of Michael Kors, and Ni Ni, Gucci’s brand ambassador, and commented on the connection between youth and beauty.
One WeChat user, known simply as “pai”, wrote: “Though I may be attracted to youthful looks and beautiful faces for a moment, these won’t last long.
“Sometimes, fashion is about time. Only people who have experienced enough can show what fashion is really about.”
In a country where female independence and feminist values are becoming increasingly celebrated, the success of Marie Claire China’s influencer marketing campaign shows an alternative way of targeting a broader female audience – an important lesson for all fashion and luxury marketers.
Here are the eight socialites and highlights of their achievements:
Tsai Chin (周采芹), born in 1933, is a Chinese British actress.
She is best known for her role as Auntie Lindo in the Wayne Wang 1993 film drama The Joy Luck Club, “shooting” James Bond at the start of the film You Only Live Twice and also played Hong Kong icon Suzie Wong on stage in the original West End theatre production.
Chin, 84, is the daughter of the legendary Peking opera actor Zhou Xinfang and Shanghai socialite Lilian Qiu.
Rebecca Pan (潘迪华), born in 1930 in Shanghai, is a singer and actress in Hong Kong.
Pan, 86, is best known for her acting roles in two Wong Kar-wai directed films, 2000’s romantic drama In the Mood for Love and 1990’s crime drama, Days of Being Wild, for which she was named best supporting actress at both Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards and the Asia-Pacific Film Festival in 1991.
Her performance in Days of Being Wild also saw her gain best supporting actress award nominations at the Hong Kong Film Awards and Hong Kong Film Critics Association’s Golden Bauhinia Awards.
Lisa Lu (卢燕), born in 1927 in Beijing, is a Chinese-born American actress and singer.
Lu, 91, has appeared in many American television series in the 1960s, including The Virginian, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and films such as The Last Emperor, the 1987 Bernardo Bertolucci film about Puyi, China’s last emperor, The Joy Luck Club and the 2009 Hollywood action blockbuster 2012.
At the Golden Horse Awards she was twice named best actress – in 1970 for her role in the Hong Kong drama, The Arch and 1975, for her performance as the Empress Dowager Cixi in the Hong Kong historical drama, The Empress Dowager.
She was named best supporting actress at the Golden Horse Awards in 1972 for her performance in the Hong Kong martial arts fantasy The 14 Amazons.
Zheng Xiaoying (郑小瑛), who was born in Shanghai on September 28, 1929, is China’s first female conductor.
She studied at the Moscow Conservatory in the early 1960s and later became the chief conductor of the China National Opera House until she retired in 1997.
Zheng, now 88, founded and became principal conductor of the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra in 1998.
She was also dean of the conductor department at prestigious Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing
Wu Yanshu (吴彦姝), born in 1938 in Taiyuan, is a Chinese actress, who spent much of her early career as a stage actress with the Shanxi Drama Theatre.
She later appeared in films and gained wider recognition after gaining a nomination for best supporting actress at the Golden Horse Awards for her film role in Xue Xiaolu’s romance Finding Mr Right 2 – also known by the title Book of Love.
She received another best supporting actress nomination at the Asian Film Awards, Golden Horse Awards. Hong Kong Film Awards for her role in actress-writer-director Sylvia Chang’s critically acclaimed 2017 drama, Love Education.
Chen Ailian (陈爱莲), who was born in 1939 in Shanghai, is a renowned choreographer and dancer.
She started to study traditional Chinese dance in Beijing in 1952 – and later ballet – the same year she was inspired to make dance her career after watching the great Russian ballerina Galina Ulanova perform in Beijing.
Chen studied at Beijing Dance Academy from 1954 and became a teacher there after graduating,
She has played many leading roles during her long career.
Kan Yue-sai (靳羽西), who was born in 1949 in Guilin and grew up in Hong Kong, is an Emmy-award-winning television host and producer in the US and a successful beauty entrepreneur in China.
She studied piano at Brigham Young University in Hawaii in the 1960s and entered a beauty contest – finishing runner-up.
In the 1970s she moved to New York and formed her own television company, which produced a weekly programme, Looking East, to introduce Chinese culture and customs to an American audience.
In 1984, America’s Public Broadcasting Service invited her to host the first live broadcast from mainland China, which marked the 35th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.
Her 1989 US documentary China: Walls and Bridges won her an Emmy Award.
In 1992 she launched her own successful cosmetic brand in China, Yue-Sai, which was later bought by the French cosmetics brand L’Oréal.
Hsiang, who was born in 1940 in Germany and educated in the United States, is widely known as a celebrity stylist to the stars in Asia and the US (including the late actress Audrey Hepburn) while working on fashion shoots for fashion magazines and leading cosmetics brands.
She worked as fashion director for Elle magazine in the US before becoming editorial director of Elle magazine’s Asia-Pacific editions for 12 years.