Chinese celebrity endorsement case study: Fan BingBing

When it comes to celebrity endorsements in China, no one better evidences the effect of star power like Fan BingBing. Fan BingBing is currently the fourth highest paid actress in the world, beating superstars like Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie, and Julia Roberts. She is worth an estimated $21 million (£14 million) and topped last year’s Forbes Chinese star power list for the third year running (source: Mashable).

Fan BingBing is most recognisable for her role in the latest instalment of the X-Men franchise, Days of Future Past, in which she played Blink. She is signed on to appear in four further films in the franchise, and also starred in Ironman 3 (source: Yahoo! Finance).

Yet despite her many accolades, Fan BingBing is relatively unknown in the West. Her wealth, fame, and influence is driven almost entirely by Chinese demand, making her the perfect case study for the power of celebrity endorsements.

Fan BingBing celebrity endorsements

Fan BingBing, like many Chinese stars, is the face of a whole host of different brands. The list of companies that she endorses include Cartier, Chopard, Mercedes-Benz, Moet, Chandon, L’Oreal and Louis Vuitton (source: Jing Daily). She is regularly invited to fashion shows by brands such as Armani, Dior, Valentino and Versace, and closed the 2012 Paris Stéphane Rolland Couture show. The following year she entered the history books as the first Asian actress to have a custom designed and made gown from Louis Vuitton, which she wore to the Cannes Film Festival.

eCommerce giant Alibaba ranks Fan BingBing as the most valuable celebrity in terms of generating sales on the site. By tracking keyword searches for her name, it has been estimated that she influenced $74 million worth of sales on the ecommerce website in 2013 (Source: Fashionbi).

Topping the Forbes list of most influential Chinese stars shows just how much impact Fan BingBing has had. She has been in the top 10 every year since 2006. The list doesn’t just take into account wealth; it is a measure of the influencing power of the celebrity. If the list was based entirely on wealth, Fan BingBing would actually be in fourth place.

Secret to success

Fan BingBing has found success thanks to far more than just her looks and her acting talents. Chinese consumers judge celebrity endorsements based upon the quality of the star’s character, not just their accolades and achievements. Fan BingBing has a reputation in China for being incredibly hard-working: she started her own production company in 2007 and starred in eight films in the same year.

She is also well-known for charity work, having co-founded Heart Ali, a project to help Tibetan children suffering from congenital heart disease. In 2010 she paid for 10 children with congenital heart defects to have surgery, and this year donated 1 million yuan to provide aid to victims of the explosion in Tianjin (source: International Business Times).

Fan BingBing has the same characteristics that we look for from a celebrity endorsement in the West – beauty and success – but it is her hard-working attitude and her generous character that have helped her to win the hearts of Chinese consumers, and therefore luxury brands across the world.

(Image source: Image created by Stuart Miles |