International brands Versace, Cartier, and Starbucks are the latest to tap K-pop stars to be brand ambassadors of their respective marques, as a growing number of global companies look to South Korean star power for future growth.
The most recent company to tap Korean celebrities is Starbucks, with the U.S.-based coffee chain revealing K-pop girl group Blackpink as its newest ambassadors. Kicking off from July 25, the partnership serves as Starbucks’ first-ever celebrity collaboration for the Asia Pacific region specifically, which encompasses a Blackpink-themed Frappuccino, along with a limited-edition collection of drinkware and lifestyle merchandise. The collaboration will debut at select Starbucks stores across nine markets in the APAC region — Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
“Blackpink is synonymous with an authenticity that is bold and confident, making them an inspiring force that transcends geographies and cultures. We are so thrilled to partner with one of the biggest icons of this generation that aligns with our focus on uplifting customers and fans alike through human connection to create an unforgettable Starbucks Experience,” said Emmy Kan, senior vice president and president, Starbucks Asia Pacific.
“Guided by our shared passion to deliver unparalleled experiences, this collaboration will bring new energy and excitement to our customers who are encouraged to embrace their individuality and express themselves in bold new ways this summer. It is also testament of how we are continually exploring limitless opportunities to deepen our connection with our customers.”
Blackpink aren’t new to celebrity endorsement with foreign brands. The group’s members — Lisa, Jennie, Rosé and Jisoo — have all inked partnerships with luxury brands Celine, Chanel, Saint Laurent and Dior in recent months, highlighting the shift in global companies, especially luxury brands, tapping Korean celebrities to promote their goods.
Weighing in on the K-pop star-power trend is Italian luxury house Versace, which this month appointed Hyunjin from K-pop boy band Stray Kids as its new global brand ambassador, serving as the Capri Holdings-owned brand’s first foray into the South Korean pop music scene.
Kicking off the partnership, Hyunjin will front the Versace Holiday 2023 campaign to be launched in November this year.
“I am delighted Hyunjin is joining the Versace family. I am constantly inspired by new voices defining culture around the world and for me Hyunjin has great new energy and creativity. I love his confidence and freedom of expression. He is a true Versace man,” said Donatella Versace, in a Instagram post on Versace’s account.
With 72.3 million social media followers all across channels, Hyunjin will appear in both images and video for the now New York-owned brand. In May, Hyunjin was at Versace’s ‘La Vacanza’ fashion show, and attended the official opening of a Versace pop-up in Seoul earlier this month.
“I’m so excited to be starting my Versace journey as a global ambassador and to make beautiful moments together. I am both inspired and honoured to play a part in the House’s truly amazing heritage, and that Donatella believes I have the Versace attitude! I’m filled with anticipation and can’t wait to experience the artistic synergy with Donatella,” said Hyunjin, in the post.
Meanwhile, hot on the heels of Versace’s ambassadorship news, luxury jeweller Cartier has also revealed the appointment of K-pop star Kim Taehyung, better known as V from BTS, as its newest global brand ambassador.
In his first duty for the Richemont-owned brand, Kim fronted the jewellery brand’s newest campaign for its Panthère line.
“When it came to embodying the magnetism and aura of the panther, our choice naturally fell on V. He has the look and strength of character. A personality whose choices are guided by creativity as a dancer, musician or art lover, with this style and this elegance that belong only to him,” said D’Arnaud Carrez, senior vice president, chief marketing officer, at Cartier.
The K-pop celebrities’ appointments come one month after Kenzo named Korean pop star Vernon as its new global ambassador.
Prior to that, Ferragamo announced the appointment of Jeno Lee, best known as Jeno, as the Florentine company’s first global male ambassador, in June, while Valentino announced the appointment of popular Chinese actor Yang Yang as its latest brand ambassador.
Moreover, fellow K-pop band NewJeans’ members Hyein, Hanni, Danielle and Haerin have also been appointed as ambassadors at Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry and Dior, respectively.
Total spending on personal luxury goods by South Koreans year-on-year grew around 24 percent to USD 16.8 billion in 2022, amounting to USD 325 per capita, according to a report by Morgan Stanley, prompting luxury houses to tap Korean stars to further catalyse demand.
The investment bank attributed the growth in South Korea to an increase in purchasing power, as well as a desire to outwardly exhibit social standing.