The 3 Major PR Fails at the Victoria's Secret Shanghai Fashion Show

Some Fast Facts (if you missed the show)

  • Candice Swanepoel Opened the Show

  • 6 themed sections opened with the “Punk Angel” followed by “Goddesses”, “Millennial Nation” , “Winter’s Tale” , “Porcelain Angel” and closed with “Nomadic Angels”

  • Karlie Kloss Returned

  • Lais Ribeiro wore Fantasy Bra this year

1. Ming Xi’s tumble on the catwalk

We were actually quite surprised at the amount of harsh criticism directed at Ming Xi over the incident. However, after digging a little deeper, we realized the following:

  • Ming Xi’s PR team failed to take action to mitigate netizens’ criticism

  • Most Chinese, consider Ming Xi to be more of a celebrity guest in entertainment shows than a professional catwalk model on runways

  • After her fall on the catwalk Ming Xi came across as dazed failed to recover promptly, throwing off the timing of the segment

=> Most professional models that have a misstep on the catwalk will recover immediately and do their best not to hinder other models in the routine. Due to Ming Xi’s response, the Angels that followed her were forced to walk without music which turned out tremendously embarrassing for Victoria’s Secret.

  • What’s funny: Ming Xi had actually stated ahead of the show that if she were to fall on the Victoria’s Secret catwalk, she would retire…We doubt she will still be invited next year...

=> PR disaster 1

2. Overcomplicated check-in system

In general, guests with invitation cards don't have to provide their IDs to get into the venue. However this time, Victoria's Secret really overcomplicated the checkin process which resulted in a very long and unhappy line.

Lining up in China on its own is not quite news-worthy material. When it comes to an invite-only show, where VIP guests show up in their very best makeup and dresses however, they don't expect to have to wait for more than an hour to get in their seats, or even having to stand during the show.

=> PR disaster 2

3. Seat Mismanagement

Usually, for events like this, brands will want to invite as many influencers, celebrities and fashion icons as possible to promote and raise attention on social media.

None of the "officially invited'"A-list celebrities actually attended the event (see photo above).

Under normal circumstances, with the sheer number of Chinese Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) and celebrities invited to this show, you would see great social buzz and positive content across Chinese social media. In this case, the paid KOLs were either not allocated seats at all, or were allocated one seat between 2 KOLs. If that wasn't enough, the seats that were available were second rank seats with bad photo angles which irritated the KOLs and virtually killed social buzz. Furthermore, many of the guests Victoria’s Secret invited were less relevant in terms of being able to help Victoria’s Secret deliver professional content and increase discussion around the brand in China.

What made it worse is that many of these guests appeared disinterested and distracted which did not do the KOL’s pictures any good. While all of this made the influencers’ work advertising the show to their followers difficult to an extent, the barrage of online criticism on the show nearly made it almost impossible to post believable positive content about the Victoria’s Secret show.

Wang Sicong and other VIP guests were forced to stand during the whole show due to mismanagement of seats.

Wang Sicong

Son of China's richest man

Has more than 23 million Weibo followers

In an unusual move for a fashion show, more tickets were sold than there were seats for which meant that quite a few guests had to stand throughout the show after on top of already having had to queue up for the event for over an hour. While Wang Sicong didn’t complain, other guests did take notice as he is recognized by many as the son of China’s richest man.

We reckon the mismanagement of seats is the biggest mistake of the whole show.

=> PR disaster 3

In short, most Chinese only remember 3 things about this 2017 Victoria's Secret show:

  1. Ming Xi’s fall and being unprofessional

  2. Overcomplicated checkin system which results in unhappy guests waiting in line for hours (then finally entered to realize they don't really have a seat)

  3. No guaranteed seats for VIPs and guests with invitation cards

=> Considering Victoria's Secret's reputation as a big brand that has tons of experience in organizing events and fashion shows it came as quite a shock to many Chinese to see how many things still went wrong with Victoria's Secret's official entry into the Chinese market

BBC Coverage

Underwear makes money

Victoria's Secret said on its official Weibo account that the show was invitation-only and there was no way to buy tickets.

But in September, a Chinese fashion website said it could provide access to buy tickets. Each ticket would cost 168,000 yuan ($25,300; £19,100).

And a listing on Taobao, China's leading e-commerce website, was selling a ticket at a whooping 300,000 yuan ($45,000, £34,150).


  • Jane Zhang became the first Chinese singer to perform for Victoria's Secret, joining the ranks of Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.

  • Supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio’s last time walking for Victoria's Secret shows

  • Most number of Chinese Supermodels walking on Victoria's Secret catwalk: 7

  • Liu Wen remains the most popular Chinese super model

  • Katy Perry and Gigi Hadid were denied Chinese visas

Well...not sure if it's why.

#VictoriasSecret #LiuWen #ChineseSupermodels

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