10 Korean Celebrities that Became Brand Ambassadors in 2021

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Here are ten Korean celebrities that have made it from the entertainment industry to the fashion industry.

Whether it is the audiences’ love for K-drama films, shows, or K-Pop music, South Korean artistes have captured the imagination of one and all.

Such is their ever-growing reach that the world’s biggest luxury brands have turned to collaborating with some of the most famous Korean celebrities.

Here are Ten Korean Celebrities that Became Brand Ambassadors in 2021

Hyun Bin

The Korean heartthrob who starred in the hit Netflix series Crash Landing on You (2019-2020) became the first Korean celebrity to endorse the Italian luxury brand Loro Piana in September 2021.

“His social engagement towards humanitarian and environmental issues underscores the common values shared between himself and Loro Piana, making the partnership a natural decision,” the brand said in a press release. The actor will sport the brand’s upcoming fall/winter 2021-2022 collection, which will also include ready-to-wear items and accessories.

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However, Loro Piana isn’t the only brand Hyun Bin is endorsing. He was made the first Asia-Pacific brand ambassador of Tom Ford Beauty in July 2021, and was featured in the brand’s Soleil Neige campaign.

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In 2020, Hyun Bin became Swiss luxury watch brand Omega’s first Korean ambassador. He also featured on the January 2021 cover of Esquire Korea sporting an Omega watch.

Gong Yoo

The Train to Busan (2016) star, who also made a special appearance in Netflix’s most-watched series Squid Game (2021- ), was announced as Chanel Korea’s brand ambassador earlier in 2021. The actor will endorse the brand’s fine jewellery and watches.

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In an exclusive photoshoot with Elle Korea, Gong Yoo made his first appearance flaunting Chanel’s J12 timepiece.

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Gong Yoo also did a shoot for Marie Claire Korea, where he was seen wearing the J12 watch.

Nam Joo-Hyuk

Popular Korean actor Nam Joo-Hyuk, who stared in the Netflix series Start-Up (2020), became the brand ambassador of Dior Beauty Korea earlier in 2021. However, this wasn’t his first stint with the Maison.

In 2019, he was made the first Korean ambassador of Dior Men.

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He will be promoting various Dior products, from perfumes to skincare and makeup, in his latest partnership with the brand.

Lee Dong-Wook

His flawless skin makes him the perfect choice for beauty and skincare product endorsement. Chanel tapped on him to endorse its first makeup collection for men — Boy de Chanel — in 2019 as the brand’s global ambassador.

In July 2021, he was chosen as La Mer’s male brand ambassador. The Goblin (2016) star made a breathtaking appearance in Elle Korea’s July issue to announce his collaboration with La Mer.

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“Lee Dong-Wook’s luxurious image and irreplaceable atmosphere fit well with the brand, so we chose him as the model,” a brand representative shared with a South Korean media outlet, as per KDramaStars.

Kim Woo-Bin

The model-actor returned to spotlight this year after recovering from nasopharyngeal cancer.

He was spotted attending The Sound Maker exhibition in South Korea as the new brand ambassador of the Swiss luxury watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre.

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Speaking of the association, Woo-Bin said: “I’m very delighted to be a Friend of Jaeger-LeCoultre, with a long history of 188 years and great watchmaking expertise. I look forward to the new journey with Jaeger-LeCoultre.”

Kim Soo-Hyun

One of the highest-paid actors in South Korea, Kim Soo-Hyun was made Tommy Hilfiger’s new brand ambassador.

“For days at home and working life leisure and work, Kim always looks to the future with a smile,” Tommy Hilfiger’s website reads.

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The actor was seen adorning the brand’s Autumn 2021 menswear collection.

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He was also chosen as Swiss watchmaker Mido’s Asia ambassador.

Lee Jung- J ae

While Lee Jung-Jae from the Squid Game fame preps for the upcoming season of the Netflix series, the Korean actor has caught the attention of one of the biggest fashion houses in the world. He was made the global brand ambassador of Gucci in November 2021.

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A press release by Gucci said, “Lee Jung-Jae’s charismatic and iconic style and a strong self-identity is similar to Gucci’s philosophy that values acceptance of diversity and self-expression.”

Ho-Yeon Jung

Another Squid Game star who has gained massive popularity after the show’s release is Ho-Yeon Jung. The model-turned-actress is now one of Louis Vuitton global ambassadors.

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In an Instagram post on 6 October, 2021, the French luxury fashion house’s creative director Nicolas Ghesquiere wrote: “I immediately fell in love with HoYeon’s great talent and fantastic personality, and I am looking forward to starting this new chapter of the journey we started at Louis Vuitton a few years ago.”

According to the post, she had earlier walked the ramp for the brand and had also featured in a ready-to-wear campaign in 2017.

Shin Min-A

The gorgeous model-actress who is known for her stunning looks and versatility, is one of the Korean celebrities to bag a brand deal.

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She was last seen in Netflix’s Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, and was made Gucci’s global ambassador in November 2021.

The fashion label took to Twitter to share pictures of the actress sporting its collection. The tweet said: “#MinaShin joins as new Gucci global brand ambassador. Here, the actress appears in a series of images wearing key pieces from #GucciAria, including a selection of #GucciJewelry. #AlessandroMichele.”

Song Hye-Kyo

The Descendants of the Sun (2016) actress was appointed Fendi’s first Korean global brand ambassador.

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Her strong and timeless appeal makes her the best choice to represent the luxury fashion house.

(Main and Featured image: Tommy Hilfiger)

Western luxury brands are entering a risky pact with China’s influencers

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French cosmetics giant L’Oréal has been going through a massive retail row in China after two leading social media influencers sold large quantities of the company’s beauty face masks to consumers while inaccurately claiming it was the cheapest deal available anywhere.

Influencers Austin Li Jiaqi and Wei Ya regularly reach tens of millions of shoppers on their two e-commerce livestreams, and the November 11 “singles day” festival has become one of their most eagerly anticipated broadcasts. This year, among the many products they were each selling on that evening was the supposedly special offer of batches of 50 L’Oréal masks for ¥429 (£49.85). But it emerged shortly after that the same deal was available direct from L’Oréal for ¥258.

Li, known as China’s “lipstick king” for his ability to sell masses of product online, and Wei, a former pop star who rose to fame as the winner of China’s equivalent of Pop Idol, started receiving large volumes of complaints from furious shoppers.

Both influencers issued apologies. After L’Oréal did not immediately say it would compensate those who had bought the masks, the influencers said they would no longer showcase the company’s products.

Now L’Oréal has apologised and confirmed it will provide compensation. In a statement, the company blamed its “overly complicated sales mechanism” and said it had “found a constructive and satisfactory solution to address the recent customers complaints in relation with singles day promotion”.

The row has not been pleasant for anyone involved, but it shows how important influencers have become as endorsers of luxury goods in China. So how has the market changed, and what does it mean for customers?

Changing face of luxury retail

China is the most important market in the world for luxury goods, with Chanel, Dior, Cartier and Hermès among the leading brands in the country. The market has been doing strong business during COVID. For example, major Hong Kong-based luxuries retailer Chow Tai Fook has reported an annual revenue increase of nearly 24% in its 2021 financial year, mostly from mainland China.

Luxury brands have traditionally relied on flagship stores in the best shopping districts to connect with their customers. The number and size of stores has continued increasing in leading malls like Plaza 66 in Shanghai and SKP Beijing, where all the top luxury brands have large external facades and dazzling logo displays. They also use historical buildings, such as the ones situated at the north of the Shanghai Bund waterfront district.

But while physical stores are still important, most brands seek to extend their reach online. A major part of this is through using the internet as a way to communicate their relationships with celebrities.

Cartier, for example, invites Chinese movie stars to attend its promotional events. These would include star actors like Tony Leung, and more recently actor Chang Chen and actor/singer Lu Han, who would be described as “good friends of Cartier” to highlight the brand’s prestige through these connections.

But when Cartier has tried to use social media to promote these celebrity attachments, consumers have reacted badly. I have read thousands of comments (in Chinese) from people ridiculing the watchmaker for referring to its endorsers as “friends”, claiming that this detracts from the importance of their favourite stars. Most Chinese people would say that “guest” is a more respectful choice of word than “friend”.

Perhaps partly because of such experiences, luxury brands have turned to social media influencers to help communicate their messages. For example, Dior hired Angelababy, a famous actor and internet celebrity from Hong Kong, as a brand ambassador in 2017. The relationship has continued to the present day, with the actor appearing in virtual form at Shanghai Fashion Week in April.

Yet using Angelababy in this way was questioned by Dior’s customers online, as she is an agent of the brand rather than an independent influencer. This means she is seen as not being in a position to speak on behalf of Dior’s customers and fans in the way that she might otherwise have done.

Unpredictable behaviour

Just like celebrities, influencers come with the additional problem that brands have no direct control over their behaviour. Whatever exactly happened in the case of L’Oréal and its influencers, for instance, they have not been speaking in unison since the debacle with the face masks.

When it comes to the dangers of individual behaviour, the only consolation is that it can sometimes work in the brand’s favour. This happened to Dior, for instance, when footage surfaced in which Angelababy was perceived as speaking up for an actress in an encounter with pop star Kris Wu, who was subsequently arrested on suspicion of rape in relation to a separate incident.

At any rate, L’Oréal’s recent problems show that while influencers are potentially more objective moderators than traditional celebrities (particularly if you don’t use them as brand ambassadors), online marketing still presents great risks. In an era where millennials engage mainly online, an incident like the one with Li and Wei can spread quickly and stick in consumers’ minds much more than the glitzy marketing narratives that are pushed by the luxury brands. A fan exposed to a debacle like L’Oréal’s can turn hostile overnight to the brand they loved.

Perhaps the ideal relationship between brands and influencers arises from Vogue China’s decision earlier this year to appoint famous 27-year-old blogger Margaret Zhang as editor-in-chief. Even though she never trained in journalism, she is well accepted by consumers of high fashion, and her endorsement is now arguably one of the most valuable to brands in the business.

World Cup 2022: David Beckham, ambassador for Qatar – The Athletic

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There were two iconic British sportsmen at last weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix.Both were there as part of their professional obligations, using their respective platforms, performing their roles to perfection and doing everything their employers might have asked of them.Lewis Hamilton was one of them. He won the race, dominating the rest of the field in his Mercedes, finishing more than 25 seconds ahead of his rival for the Formula One Championship, Max Verstappen. He did so while wearing a rainbow crash helmet in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, which was described as “an incredible act of allyship” by Richard Morris, co-founder of Racing Pride. Hamilton tweeted pictures of him wearing the helmet, along with the message, “We stand together.”David Beckham was the other. He was immaculately turned out in a blazer and slacks, shaking hands and kissing cheeks, visiting and inspecting the Qatari government’s various charitable initiatives, providing handsome content and generally performing the role of David Beckham to perfection.He was there as part of his new role as ambassador for Qatar, designed initially to promote and polish the image of the 2022 World Cup, but later to sell the idea of Qatar more generally. It’s quite a reverse from Beckham being at the forefront of England’s 2018 World Cup bid, a bid that was humiliated at the same time Qatar was awarded the 2022 tournament.One view would be that this was two different men attempting to affect change in Qatar in their own way. One via overt advocacy and allyship, the other through the softly-softly harnessing of fame and influence.