L’Oréal-owned French cosmetics brand Lancôme explored the beauty of traditional Chinese ceramics to promote its ABSOLUE Eye Cream.
The campaign video, which features actor Chen Kun, delves into the restoration of antique blue-and-white ceramics. With the tagline “repairing the old to its original condition”, the campaign uses antique restoration as a metaphor for the repair of tired or ageing skin.
The voiceover explains the details of the restoration process, continuing the metaphor as it talks about retaining the “inherent lustre, texture, and spirit” of the ceramics and honouring the “grief and pleasure” accumulated through life.
China’s renowned blue-and-white ceramics first appeared in the Tang Dynasty (618-906) and were later given an upgrade in the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1638) when potters in Jingdezhen, China’s famous porcelain town, refined their clay recipes and firing technology.
By centring this heritage in their campaign, Lancôme taps into guochao or “national wave”, which is Chinese consumers’ desire for products that pay homage to Chinese cultural heritage, both ancient and modern.
Far from being only the preserve of homegrown brands, foreign brands can utilise this trend with clever product design and local collaborations. Many foreign beauty brands, including Lancôme, still enjoy a reputational advantage among Chinese consumers despite rapidly increasing competition from domestic brands like Florasis.
Lancôme’s latest eye cream campaign also shows a clear awareness of trends specific to the beauty market. Worries about ageing among Chinese women start much earlier than middle age, according to recent analysis from digital marketing agency Hot Pot China. The report highlighted that half of Chinese women aged 25-30 use anti-ageing products like eye creams, serums, and skin-lifting creams.
Connecting anti-ageing efforts to a desire to stay true to cultural heritage helps put a positive spin on these concerns, depicting them as an act of care rather than fuelled by intense beauty standards.