Chanel, TikTok and the Beauty Advent Calendar Controversy

Hell doesn’t have a fury like a social media mob that thinks they’ve identified a luxury scam.

At least that’s what it seemed like this weekend, when a series of viral TikTok videos involving an $ 825 Chanel Advent calendar and the disappointed customer who bought it went viral, inspiring a multitude. of users to criticize the brand. Or rather, everywhere on his Instagram page.

In a way, this is just the latest example of self-defense justice inflicted on powerful global brands by individuals keen to highlight perceived injustice, including cultural appropriation, copying of designs and d ‘other forms of misconduct, and the shift in the balance of power between brands. and public.

But the emotions surrounding this anti-Advent calendar campaign were especially strong, in part, perhaps, because of the holidays involved and the idea that rather than representing goodwill to customers, this Particular gift article suggests that they are played for suckers. .

Here’s what happened: On December 3, Elise Harmon, a Tiktoker in California, posted a video of herself unboxing a Chanel Advent calendar in the shape of a Chanel n ° 5 bottle.

“Am I crazy?” she asked. “Absolutely. But I’ve never seen a Chanel Advent calendar, so let’s see if it’s worth it.

(She had never seen a Chanel Advent Calendar before because there had never been one. It was a special initiative to celebrate Chanel # 5’s 100th anniversary.)

Ms Harmon gave the calendar “a 10 out of 10” for the packaging, but she was upset to open a box and find out what appeared to be Chanel stickers. Hand cream, on the other hand, she liked.

And so on with unpacking finished eight other messages, in which Ms Harmon revealed perfumes (good), key chains (not so much), lipstick and nail polish (mostly good, though they were also mostly sample size) , a mirror (not), a rope bracelet with a CC wax stamp (eh?), a mini plastic snow globe and… a Chanel dustbag, the bags used for shoes or other accessories. It was the dust bag that really turned people on.

As of December 6, the series had been viewed over 50 million times, and each post contained thousands of comments, mostly along the “you stole” or “who do they think they are?” »Lines. To top it off, Ms Harmon told her subscribers that she had been “blockedBy Chanel.

Although Chanel has a TikTok page, it’s inactive and set to private, no subscriber, so it wasn’t clear where Ms Harmon had been blocked – she didn’t respond to requests for comment – but that didn’t stop her audience from going downhill. Chanel’s Instagram account, which has more than 47 million subscribers and who posted on the Métiers d’Art fair to be held in Paris on December 7.

Beneath each photo of the work of the various specialist workshops that Chanel now sponsors – florist Lemarie, the Montex embroidery workshop, among others – and promotional clips for the collection’s film, are hundreds of comments: “Don’t ignore the inevitable! We want answers! And, “Is the film funded by Advent Calendar sales?”

On Monday, four days after Ms. Harmon’s original video, the action was still going strong – and her followers were on the rise. (A similar a backlash occurred in China, where one blogger also called the brand’s Advent calendar not a bang for the buck.)

As for Chanel, he has not publicly broached the subject, but Grégoire Audidier, director of international communication and customer experience strategy at Chanel Fragrance and Beauty, wrote in an email: “The recent assertion of someone blocked by Chanel on TikTok is inaccurate. . We have never blocked access to the Chanel TikTok page to anyone, as it is not an active account and no content has ever been posted. We are committed to sharing our creations with our subscribers on all the social networks on which we are active. Our pages are open to everyone and our subscribers are free to express their feelings and opinions, whether enthusiastic or critical.

Chanel is not, in this case, the only luxury brand to offer an expensive beauty Advent calendar, even if it is the most expensive. Indeed, it’s actually late for the game, which took off about a decade ago.

There is now a plethora of limited edition Christmas calendars, including those from La Mer, Guerlain and L’Occitane. Dior ($ 550), Armani ($ 310) and Saint Laurent ($ 300) also have Beauty Advent Calendars. None of them are cheap, and most contain a mix of beauty samples – the mini-versions of products often offered free with a purchase – and full-size or limited-edition offers.

And the beauty versions are just the latest version of Advent calendars, invented in the middle of the 19th century in Germany to teach catechism and spirituality to children, have been marketed over the years. Even the Nazis created theirs as a form of propaganda.

(The most expensive Advent calendar on the market is probably the new $ 150,000 in Tiffany version, a four foot tall cabinet with a reproduction of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting from Tiffany’s recent “Equals Pi” advertising campaign on the front and 24 gifts inside.)

So why did the Chanel version piss people off so much? After all, luxury brands have never shied away from the fact that, in large part, what their customers are buying is brand equity itself. A dust bag with “Chanel” on it is worth more than a dust bag with nothing on it.

Plus, Chanel showcases all of the calendar content on their website, so it’s no secret what everyone gets for their money. It is not obvious that their offer is more fragile than that of other brands.

But because it was new, and because it was so expensive, and because it was Chanel, with all the mythology built into the name, maybe the stakes and expectations were higher. And the feeling of betrayal when those expectations weren’t met, greater – and, it seems, the desire to respond publicly, overwhelming.

Those who profit from perception may also lose. What Ms. Harmon opened was not just a new mini perfume. It was a new reality, now completely out of the box.

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