Chanel learns a Lesson in Value over its Advent Calendar Backlash

In the last couple of days, Chanel has been embroiled in a PR nightmare over its first-ever Advent calendar, after a Tik Tok user, Elise Harmon, called out the brand over what she more or less felt was a disappointment and a possible waste of $825 which is what the Advent calendar was worth.

In a series of Tik-Tok videos, Ms Harmon revealed the content of the box, which, amongst other things, includes a mini Rouge Allure velvet lipstick, 1 mini No 5 l’Eau de toilette, 1 mini and 1 full size No 5 Eau de parfum spray, the No 5 bath soap, key rings, bracelets and stickers. Lots of stickers.

Other underwhelming items include an animated flipbook, bookmarks, a tree ornament and a pouch. Oh, and again, more stickers.

The Chanel advent calendar
Chanel produced its first-ever Advent Calendar to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the No5. Image courtesy of Chanel

Although ms Harmon was not the first to unbox the Chanel Advent Calendar, which the brand created for the first time “in the timeless silhouette of the N°5 flacon … to mark 100 years of the legendary fragrance,” it is her videos that drew the public’s attention to it and earned it the bad reputation that it now has.

To further worsen its woes, the Tik-Tok user claimed that the fashion brand blocked her after her revelation and deleted its account. This has further enraged social media users, some of who have called for a boycott.

Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion and president of Chanel SAS has now responded, calling the whole incident “a shame.” Speaking to WWD, he said, “Chanel thought it would please some of its customers by offering this type of product. Evidently, we see that you have to be careful and therefore, in future, we will certainly be much more cautious.”

The Chanel advent calendar with some of its contents exposed
Chanel says it thought consumers would be thrilled with the content of the calendar. Image courtesy of Chanel

Chanel has also come out to refute allegations that it blocked Ms Hermon or deleted its Tik-Tok account. “We have never blocked access to the Chanel TikTok account to anyone because it is simply not active. It has never been activated, no content has ever been published, it has no subscribers and no subscription. The page, therefore, appears empty to anyone who visits it. When Ms Harmon visited our page, she naturally found the usual message that she could not access this account, just like anyone else on the network,” explains an official statement.

Like the brand, and just about everyone has noted, the content of the Chanel Advent Calendar was actually published on its site. But whether it is because of the marketing language used, or because, just like every other luxury brand, consumers have come to associate high quality with Chanel, almost every review of the calendar has been negative.

The full content of the Chanel Advent calendar
Chanel actually outlined the exact content of its Advent Calendar on its website. It did not stop users from being disappointed. Image courtesy of Chanel

What is interesting is that in the past, it may have gotten away with a disappointing Advent Calendar or any other smaller product that is not the main core of its business. But this is 2021 where people demand more for more and are not afraid to call brands out and even cancel them, no matter how big they are.

Chanel, like the rest of us, has come to the realisation that it is not enough to say you are a luxury, high-quality brand. If consumers do not constantly feel the value you say you give, you may well be on your way out of relevance.

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