Maybelline: Celebrity Endorsement in the Age of Social Media

Campaign Summary

Maybelline New York hired popular Hong Kong singer and actor William Chan to be the brand ambassador for its new lipstick line. One shade was named for Chan’s legion of dedicated fans, who call themselves “Queens.” The campaign included a social media push and a billboard in Times Square.


Objective and Context:

The rate of celebrity endorsements among ads in China is the highest in the world. With the rise of social media, the way celebrities and fans interact has changed. Their relationship is much closer and more interdependent than it had been previously.

Maybelline New York hired Hong Kong singer and actor William Chan to be the brand ambassador for its Color Sensational lipstick range. Chan was the star of several dramas and gained massive popularity among Maybelline’s young, female target audience. The makeup brand wanted to leverage Chan’s endorsement to increase interest in the lipstick line.

Target Audience:

Maybelline’s target audience was Chinese women between the ages of 18 and 30.

Creative Strategy:

When researching Chan’s fans, Maybelline found that they were not only a massive group but that they were also very protective of Chan. They called themselves “his Queens,” which meant they would protect him the way a queen protects her king. The relationship between Chan and his Queens was so important that there were instances when Chan’s agent stopped endorsement deals because fans didn’t think they were a good fit.


Overall Campaign Execution:

Almost all (94 percent) of the campaign’s budget went to mobile.

Mobile Execution:

For the endorsement campaign, Maybelline first renamed one of its lipstick shades “Queen,” and made it the star color of the line. Next, Chan posed with the lipstick and released promotional photos on his social media channels. Maybelline then officially revealed that Chan was the spokesperson. Meanwhile, the brand announced that the Queen shade was exclusive to Chan’s fans. Maybelline created an interactive page with a 40-second video starring Chan, and fans could choose different storylines featuring Chan to follow.

Although massively popular in China, Chan is not yet recognized internationally. To elevate his stardom, Maybelline featured him on a billboard in New York’s Times Square, making him one of only a few Chinese celebrities to be featured there. Fans who visited Times Square, took selfies while wearing the Queen shade with the billboard in the background, and uploaded their photos were entered into a drawing to win a chance to be featured alongside Chan on the Time Square billboard.

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)
  • Chan’s interactive videos were viewed nearly one million times.
  • 30,000 fans uploaded their photos to win a chance to be on the billboard with Chan.
  • The Queen lipsticks were sold out in 20 seconds. Fans wanted the color so desperately that they wrote to Chan’s agent requesting more. After a restock, another 20,000 were sold in two hours, breaking Maybelline’s e-commerce sales record.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: 360-Degree Video, Mobile Payments/Commerce, Product/Services Launch | Awards: Bronze Winner, Finalist