Chanel’s TikTok challenge | BoF

This week, Chanel made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The French mega-label organized its last Métiers d’Art showcase in Paris on Tuesday. But by far the hottest topic was TikTok influencer Elise Harmon’s video series slamming the company over an $ 825 Advent calendar containing what she and many of her followers considered articles to be. disappointing, like a dust bag and miniaturized cosmetics.

“I’m pretty sure that’s enough cream for my left arm,” she said in one of the videos, pinching a tiny jar of body cream between her icy fingers. in acrylic. As of Friday, the posts had been viewed more than 54 million times.

Chanel’s public relations strategy was to play the coolies, fending off criticism. Fashion firm president Bruno Pavlovsky called the episode a “regrettable misunderstanding”, suggesting that the calendar’s real value lay not in its contents but in its “unique and remarkable” scent box.

A misunderstanding, perhaps, but one that underscores a wider disconnect between luxury brands and the increasingly powerful TikTok.

The platform is evolving rapidly, with videos that capture users’ attention only for a brief period, and Chanel has a strong brand, so the incident may end soon. However, it is not over yet. The vitriol has spread to other platforms and users are still raging. “Maybe I can have some fashion scraps on next year’s advent calendar :),” Instagram user @henriebrooke sniffed under a recent Chanel post featuring director Sofia Coppola.

It doesn’t help that Chanel is inactive on TikTok, which means there are missing opportunities to populate the platform with more positive messages. But traditional branded content doesn’t work as well with TikTok users as a raw material. And Chanel is by no means alone in its cautious approach to a platform that many luxury peers see as a gross denominator, the least common, and ultimately difficult context for their tightly-managed images.

And yet TikTok’s influence has only grown, especially with Gen Z customers who drive a growing share of luxury sales. Luxury brands need to figure out how to make the platform work for them, even if they don’t have full control of it.

Some engage TikTok influencers through giveaways. It’s a beginning. However, they need to go further and imagine new ways to embed positive stories about their brands within the platform, taking into account very specific formats that work best, beauty tutorials, and sync bits. lip service to community “challenges” and sound-oriented clips.

The #PradaBucketChallenge, for example, has generated more than 8 billion views since its launch in October. TikTok star Tinx’s “Rich Mom Starter Pack: Brentwood Edition” featured an ironic appearance by Gwyneth Paltrow, whose Goop brand embodies the lifestyle the creator both embodies and mocks. The post has generated over 325,000 views, while most of Goop’s Instagram videos have fewer than 50,000.

To deliver this kind of success, brands have to experiment. For its recent Métiers d’Art showcase, for example, Chanel could have published clips as simple as models preparing behind the scenes. (The #gettingready hashtag has over 560 million views.) Or, the brand could have leveraged users’ love for ASMR, by posting a TikTok of a demo the brand hosted during the Métiers d’Art event featuring a craftsman from the Lemarié workshop belonging to Chanel. cut feathers into petals, sew them in flowers then arrange them in trompe l’oeil on a dress.

For decades, luxury brands have relied on consumers to drive sales of entry-level products like lipsticks and high-volume perfumes. The halo of parades and airbrushed advertising campaigns may have already been enough to make luxury brands shine in the eyes of these buyers. Brands whose perception is increasingly influenced by TikTok, luxury houses must get involved or be left behind.



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Compiled by Joan Kennedy.

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