From McD to LV: K-pop's BTS notches up marketing deals


The members of BTS are now the brand ambassadors for Louis Vuitton. Photo: Handout

Mixing high- and low-cost styles is a well-worn fashion trick, and Korean pop sensations BTS (pic) are taking the approach to a whole new level in marketing deals announced this week.

After first agreeing with McDonald's to promote a new meal selling for just over US$6, the boyband has also been named brand ambassadors for Louis Vuitton, the purveyor of handbags that sell for well above US$1,000.

The Grammy-nominated South Korean group, which now releases English-language songs too, has topped the album charts several times in the United States.

Louis Vuitton, the biggest sales driver at French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, already works with a roster of celebrities to promote its wares, from actresses Emma Stone and Jennifer Connelly to actor and singer Jaden Smith.

Many brand ambassadors have starred in advertising campaigns but also popped up in the front row at fashion shows, helping drive buzz on social media, a marketing avenue top luxury brands have invested heavily in.

Asia – and especially China, where K-pop is also popular – provides major markets for luxury brands, and has fuelled sales bounces as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

Louis Vuitton's menswear designer Virgil Abloh, known for his streetwear-style creations and who is friends with hip-hop star Kanye West, said the BTS partnership added "a modern chapter to the House, merging luxury and contemporary culture".

Luxury brands have not traditionally liked working with so-called influencers who represent other labels that do not fit with their high-end image, although the boundaries between sports and fashion for instance is starting to blur.

"As disparate as their businesses might seem, McDonald's and Louis Vuitton share a need to onboard new generations of consumers," Carol Spieckerman, president at retail consultancy Spieckerman Retail, said.

Louis Vuitton had no comment on April 23 on BTS' McDonald's deal. Under that agreement, the band's meal will launch starting next month in nearly 50 countries, and will include chicken McNuggets, fries, and two dips.

Neither Vuitton nor McDonald's disclosed any financial details. – Reuters

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