French perfume and make-up maker Lancôme has ensnared itself in a pop-star induced scandal in Hong Kong that demonstrates just how tricky the China market is to navigate smartly.
The brand had been churning out a consistent global media rating of 55 points for nearly 4 years when suddenly the company walked right into a media firestorm. As it turns out, the company abruptly cancelled a performance by the Cantopop singer Denise Ho. She was due to perform a mini-concert on June 19 at the “Energising Factory Event,” which was sold out.
The media impact? The Lancome media rating advanced +17 points or +24% to a new high of 74, nearly 20 points ahead of its 4-year average. The $3.3 million media value alone made up 80% of the brand’s 12-month cumulative total. Media sentiment is running about average for the sector with 22 percent positive media coverage balanced by a moderate 11 percent negative component.
The cosmetics and skincare brand sector is very competitive when it comes to news and media attention and Lancome broke through the crowd, boosting its sector rank from a respectable #12 to #4, coming in just behind Chanel, Christian Dior and parent company L’Oreal.
Ho was a very vocal participant in the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement that basically shut down the center of Hong Kong for three months in late 2014. She was one of 200 people arrested and is now black-listed by the media in mainland China. She also met with the Dalai Lama last month to celebrate her 39th birthday and posted pictures of them together on Facebook calling him a wise teacher and a “loving grandpa.”
Like many brand-driven news stories, this one first broke on the blogs and then moved quickly to mainstream media. The segment contribution shows blogs contributed $2.8m to the June total of $3.3m, suggesting that the Lancome coverage, while heavy in traditional media segments, really got its legs in social media.
For some competitive perspective, the Lancome/Denise Ho story line drew more attention (but barely) then Revlon’s acquisition of Elizabeth Arden over the same June 2016 media cycle. The latter boosted Revlon +12 points to a 73 rating while Elizabeth Arden was up +16 points, also at the same 73 rating.