July 14, 2021
Swiss watchmaker Zenith is encouraging younger consumers to pursue their ambitions with a campaign starring its new brand ambassador, Chinese actor and singer Xiao Zhan.
Mr. Xiao began his career as a singer on a reality television competition and has become one of the most in-demand celebrities in China. He joins other Zenith ambassadors including NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Argentinean-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone and Japanese rhythmic gymnast and TV personality Airi Hatakeyama.
“Both Zenith and Xiao Zhang have a shared commonality of taking on challenges and breaking boundaries,” said Julien Tornare, CEO of Zenith, Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
“As ‘Time to Reach Your Star’ is the heart of the campaign, Xiao Zhang has showed perseverance and positivity toward all encountered challenges in order to outperform himself and reach his goals as a successful and influential voice in Chinese pop culture, and role model to China’s youth,” he said.
“With this campaign, we sought to inspire and to encourage others to see the potential in themselves for greatness.”
Zhan for Zenith
The new campaign film opens with Mr. Xiao seen in silhouette as he examines a screen illuminated with a starry scene.
“The starry night sky scenery is inspired from the Monde Etoilé museum found in Zenith’s manufacture and intends to provide a futuristic like feel to the video along with the music,” Mr. Tornare said. “Xiao’s presence in the video is what bridges the gap between the present and the future as he looks up to the starry night sky and reflects on his strengths and dreams.”
“Every star shines before it’s even discovered,” Mr. Xiao says in his native Chinese with English subtitles.
He then steps onto a small platform surrounded by microphone stands, an allusion to his career as a singer.
Zenith often shares how ambassadors reached their career heights
“Just like us and our dreams, we have been searching for the passion,” Mr. Xiao says. “I embrace challenges and keep going.”
As the score’s tempo picks up, so does the shot progression. Wide shots of the star surrounded by microphones and the blank pages of a script are followed by close-ups of his black Chronomaster Sport.
In one aerial shot, Mr. Xiao stands in the center of a room with his shadow rotating around him, resembling the hands of a ticking watch.
“Passion comes from within,” Mr. Xiao says. “Persistence builds up strength.
“Time invested brings you closer to your dream,” he continues, his hand outstretched against the constellation scene. “Eventually, you will find your starlight.”
Mr. Xiao, who has grown his repertoire from singing to starring in film and theater, is one of the most popular celebrities on Chinese social media platforms such as Weibo, per Zenith. He is also praised for his philanthropy and donated medical equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is my pleasure to be the brand ambassador of Zenith, a brand possessing a history spanning over 150 years,” Mr. Xiao said in a statement.
“We both share a drive to always do better; to always deliver more out of ourselves and break boundaries,” he said. “It is the devotion and persistence on excellence in watchmaking that drives Zenith to unceasingly surpass itself, just like I try to do in all my endeavors.”
More luxury brands are working with Chinese ambassadors and giving them more prominent roles as they appeal to affluents in the world’s most influential luxury market.
Mr. Xiao was also recently named as a spokesperson for Italian fashion brand Tod’s.
With this collaboration, Tod’s is hoping to highlight the Italian spirit through Mr. Xiao’s gentleman-like qualities. By tapping a young figure, Tod’s is focused on reaching the younger generations in China (see story).
Since the luxury industry has officially resumed its business in China, celebrity endorsements have been frequently enlisted as a familiar way to engage social-savvy consumers.
While idols and celebrity endorsements have proven to be a golden ticket that increases brand awareness and resonates with consumers, the power dynamic between brands and celebrities is becoming more sophisticated in China’s ever-changing digital climate.
Although the younger generations have become the new growth engine in China’s market, high-net-worth individuals are still highly relevant for established brands. Instead of solely leaning on young idols, diversified celebrity representation will better engage different customer targets (see story).
“Xiao Zhan is a great example of how hard work and perseverance can help achieve your dreams,” said Zenith’s Mr. Tornare.
“He continuously works harder to further his crafts, while at the same time supporting nonprofit organizations and engaging with his community,” he said. “We greatly admire how he stepped up to provide medical equipment for health care institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic and are happy to work him to share these same values with his fans.”