Chanel advent calendar blurred in the background with the title over it: "Chanel vs TikTok - The Advent calendar review that went viral"
Content Strategy Diary

The Power of a TikTok Video | The Chanel Advent Calendar Fiasco

No, you’re not reading a fashion column or beauty news. This article is all about the power of TikTok and how one mistake can cost you, well, your reputation.

This is a story about how Chanel, that was until two days ago a synonym for chic and absolute class, became a synonym for cheap stickers.

Yes, let’s talk about the Chanel Advent calendar TikTok video that started it all.

Chanel’s Advent Calendar Review on TikTok

We have entered that magical time of the year with Mariah Carey and Michael Buble popping out every corner, shiny discounts, horrifying questions like “What will you do for NYE?”.

We witnessed many dramas on TikTok (yes, I’m referring to the Couch Guy saga) in 2021, but the one that’s happening right now hits differently.

Because it showed us just how powerful this app can be.

But, before we get to this, let’s rewind to October 15 when Chanel announced the release of their very first Advent Calendar shaped as an iconic No 5 bottle.

Numerous famous magazines and fashion bloggers were excited about it! This was supposed to be the absolute must-have for every fashionista out there.

An Opened Chanel 2021 Advent Calendar shaped as No 5 bottle

Practically the only one out there who called them out right away was Independent. But even though they did it in October, nobody actually talked about it.

Not until an innocent review landed on TikTok.

On the 2nd of December, a TikTok user Elise Harmon published the unboxing video of this 800$ advent calendar. She admired the packaging, and she immediately noticed that the first four days are missing.

The calendar starts with No5, which is kind of a bummer, but cool because of the symbolism.

She then proceeded to open number 9, because it looked very promising, only to find Chanel stickers in it. 

And this immediately went viral! Within two days this video got 12 million views and over 20 thousand shares!

A flipbook, plastic bracelet, keychain, envelope seal, paperweight, empty dust bag, miniature hand cream and the shabby mirror did not help.

Needless to say – TikTok users got furious! They kept wondering if this was a joke. But it wasn’t until Chanel blocked this girl that the rage got real!

And not only did they block her – they then proceeded to delete their own TikTok account!

Six comments on Chanel advent calendar tiktok video review by elise harmon that went viral.

But as the above-mentioned comment stated – GenZ is just built differently. And they did not leave it at that.

Recent posts on Chanel’s (for now) active social media channels are swamped with comments about this advent calendar fiasco!

Comments made under Instagram posts "Gabrielle Chanel Exhibition" on Chanel's Instagram profile are swamped with furious comments about the Advent calendar and stickers.

Meanwhile, one of their biggest competitors is having a blast!

Now Dior’s advent calendar (300$ cheaper might I add) is all the rage! So is Sephora’s!

And yes – all of the users are calling out Chanel and comparing the quality even on these videos!

Comments ridiculing Chanel's Advent calendar under TikTok video review of Dior's advent calendar

What can we learn from Chanel’s epic failure on TikTok?

I’m not a fashion blogger, so I’m not even going to go into the details of this scam. I am only going to talk about this from the digital marketing perspective:

1. Do not underestimate the power of TikTok

If you are a marketer and you still think that TikTok is a teenage app where people dance and joke, you better change your point of view. An innocent TikTok video of a previously not so influential user just undermined the carefully built authority of one of the strongest brands out there!

Chanel is all about elegance, chic and class. Their response to this TikTok video was none of the above! And this alone undermines their core values.

And this just underlines the importance of community management strategy.

Anyone who thinks that this will just fade away is forgetting one fact. TikTok is dominated by the GenZ. And GenZ is everything Millennials aren’t. One of those things is that they do not forget and forgive that easily.

2. Do not underestimate TikTok’s algorithm

We like to think we know how TikTok’s algorithm works, but we actually have no idea.

And this can be dangerous.

You can pay varified and influential users to promote your product, and there are no guarantees people will like it.

On the other hand (like in Chanel’s case), a random user can publish an honest review and it will go viral!

While this can make your brand famous, it can also potentially damage your business if your product does not meet the requirements.

This brings me to the next takeaway.

3. Be mindful of your future customers – GenZ

Gen Z is the generation born between 1997 and 2012. And you might see them as “babies”, but these babies are making millions with NFTs, creating new trends and destroying previously established ones. They are extremely vocal, and they simply know no fear.

If they like your business, they will celebrate it and hype you until you become famous! If they dislike you – they’ll simply do their best to destroy you.

I cannot tell you how many small businesses flourished on TikTok because of this.

On the other hand, TikTok trends made famous brands (like RyanAir, Duolingo, McDonald’s) completely rethink their digital communication and promotion.

4. TikTok IS the new epicenter of trends and information

Remember how I told you that numerous famous magazines talked about Chanel’s calendar back in October? And how Independent called them out?

Well, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall any drama around it.

This just proves that the “old” media no longer holds such powerful influence when it comes to these topics.

The Advent Calendar Drama had to land on TikTok for it to go viral and call out this famous brand for an absolute scam.

So, I truly hope that you’ll stop underestimating the power of TikTok, and adjust your content strategy. I mean – even LinkedIn has an account. And they’re killing it!

Until then, Merry Christmas! And, dear brands – be careful. Because the audience will call you out and hold you accountable.

About Me

I’m an art historian – digital marketer – passionate traveler – addicted writer – dedicated member of a long distance relationship mashup.

I’m a materialist that has an urge to help the world. I have absurdly logical mind that helps me focus my creative hyper-energy.

It’s ok to be a crazy mixture of completely opposite ingredients.

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I am an art historian turned content strategist who spends days exploring what makes people tick on all channels of communication. I love making sense of data, exploring new AI tools and crafting compelling content that raises brand authority. This doesn’t really come as a surprise considering my background – Interwar propaganda art that earned her two MA degrees and articles in international scientific journals.

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