Luxury and misinformation: Inside the TikTok controversy about Chanel's pricey advent calendar

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It started out as a simple unboxing on social media, a first look inside Chanel's exclusive advent calendar. The company calls it a collector's item made in "ultra-limited" quantities with an ultra-elite price tag of $825 (about R13 088).

For TikTok user Elise Harmon, it didn't entirely live up to the hype and she said, "this has to be a joke". On her first impression, she wasn't satisfied with finding Chanel branded stickers in one of the calendar days but was happy to see a hand cream from the brand.

READ MORE | Scarlett Johansson lookalike gets 10.2 million followers on TikTok 

Her reaction has racked up more than 14 million views but what is inside the calendar shouldn't come as a surprise because it is all laid out on Chanel's website - some full-sized items, some branded trinkets. 

Chanel advent calendar screenshot Chanel website

Screenshot: Chanel website

If a product's worth is defined by what people are willing to pay on eBay, some resellers are pricing it at more than double the price.

Josh Cobden, executive vice president of PR firm Proof Strategies, says, "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder so there may indeed be many happy holders and owners of Chanel's advent calendar out there who haven't bothered to tell the world about it on social media.

But more criticism followed Elise's unboxing along with a flood of negative comments on Chanel's social media platforms. Then, Elise said Chanel blocked her on TikTok but the company calls that claim "completely inaccurate".  

READ MORE | Classy and effortlessly chic looks to celebrate 100 years of Chanel N°5 

"We have never blocked access to the Chanel TikTok account to anyone because it is simply not active," Chanel says in a statement. And adds that it is "sorry that this calendar may have disappointed some people".

Chanel advent calendar screenshot Chanel website

Screenshot: Chanel website

Alexandra Nikolajev, a digital media strategist, says this shows how quickly misinformation can spread. "They're not reporters, they're not fact-checking, they're seeing a situation happen and they're steamrolling on the opportunity because for them it does build their audience, which is ultimately what they want." 

For Chanel to get its message heard it may have to break its TikTok silence. "This is absolutely a lesson in brand strategy and how you speak to Gen Z audience," Alexandra adds.

Still, Chanel's calendar opened up a few free days of publicity whether that was the intention or not. 

Credit: CBC News/TCA

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