Influencers put Rolls-Royce’s reputation at risk in China

China is the second-largest market for Rolls-Royce – accounting for 20% to 25% of their global sales. This luxury brand is often associated with wealthy consumers. However, Rolls-Royce was recently criticised for endorsing an influencer couple who have put it under controversy. 

In the latest promotional video for Cullinan, Rolls-Royce unknowingly invited a controversial Chinese influencer couple, talking about their trip to Xin Jiang with this luxurious SUV.

After the content was posted on Sina Weibo (China’s version of Twitter), Rolls-Royce’s fans and buyers complained that the influencer couple, Wan Wan and Lin Han, brought the brand image down a notch because they are not only criticised for their extravagant behaviour, but also reprimanded for passing the buck for a worker’s death, which happened during constructing their art museum.

It is believed that they used inferior materials for the construction to save money, which indirectly caused the constructer’s death. After seeing the couple in the video, one Cullinan driver expressed his anger online, saying that hiring such influencers not only diminishes the brand’s reputation but also impairs his personal image. 

Rolls-Royce hasn’t officially responded to this social media incident, perhaps in the hope of it will fade away with time. However, about two weeks after the content was first released, Lin Han, unexpectedly got into an online argument and fought back the criticism prolonging the impact of this event.

This campaign failure in China explains why many companies in China are now looking for virtual celebrities for brand promotion, who are less likely to be involved in personal scandals and damage their brand’s reputation.

(Cover Image Credit: Rolls-Royce)

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