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The battered Hong Kong brand: The task of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Updated: Feb 20, 2022

Anyone anywhere in the world who knows anything about marketing and advertising would know that the “easiest” and most obvious “strategy” for any product is what’s cutely referred to as being “celebrity endorsements”.

Some might even call this “lazy advertising”. Having celebrities endorse a product has failed more than its succeeded for one major reason: The celebrity almost always overwhelms the product or cause.

Think back to when Michael Jackson was endorsing Pepsi.

What I remember most is Jacko’s hair being set alight during the filming in 1984 of a commercial for the soft drink brand. Aaaaaoooow!!!

Looking back over the years, it’s extremely difficult to think of advertising for popular brands where celebrities have been effectively and successfully used.

Michael Jordan and the marketing marriage with Nike for Air Jordan’s comes to mind, but nothing much else.

George Clooney, Angelina Jolie and others have been used to endorse various brands, but none have had any “traction” on sales nor memorability.

When all else fails, and for the right price, many celebrities in Hong Kong have sold their brands and been used to promote commercial brands- the iconic and late Anita Mui, actors Tony Leung, Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok, Leon Lai, Jacky Chan, singer and the ubiquitous Karen Mok, singer-actor George Lam- more recently he and his son to, one guesses, reach a wider audience- and many many others including then-jockey Tony Cruz.

When still in advertising and for a Keep Hong Kong Clean Campaign for the Government Information Services, I wrote one of those anthemic love ballads called “Pitching In” and filled it up with as many local celebrities as possible.

It worked for what it was, but this was something like forty years ago and the subject matter tackled was hardly a major priority. It was fluff. Fluffy rubbish.

Notable holdouts in Hong Kong for never selling their popularity to anyone have been Canto Pop pioneer Sam Hui and the great Bruce Lee.

It was announced yesterday that popular Hong Kong boyband Mirror were to be “brand ambassadors” for the city’s fight against Covid.

Nothing wrong with this, but exactly how they will be used might be somewhat interesting in a kinda weird way, but with Mirror having endorsed everything from McDonald’s to ice cream to Samsung, is this the best option that Hong Kong’s business community- at least the leading property tycoons asked for help by the Chinese government- could come up with?

This- and when the image of Hong Kong has taken a severe battering with the international mainstream media showing the shocking images of the elderly forced to sleep outdoors- and in the cold?

Hopefully, others in the business community could look deeper, dig deeper, and think things through more effectively.

This should be done especially when one considers having all this time to look at how best to tackle something that has grown way out of control. It’s showing just how totally inept the city’s leaders are- especially you-know-who.

More to the point, perhaps there can be some effective strategic thinking and not kiddie band aid with knee jerk reactions coming into play from those simply providing whatever is in their portfolios to appease the leaders in China who are quickly succeeding where the Hong Kong government has kept tripping over itself.

As we should all know by now, Covid is not McCovid. It’s a very serious subject that’s affecting the lives of people from every walk of life. Wherever one looks, there is only negativity heaped upon more negativity.

Where’s there even a glimmer of hope- and who’s going to provide this? Maybe someone will...

As for Hong Kong, it’s also facing a rapidly escalating brain drain. Couple, or even triple this, with a lack of confidence in its city leaders.

Add to this triple decker sandwich, no tourism because there’s nothing in this once vibrant international city to attract even those still hanging in here and trapped inside an environment of fear.

Others, like the Mighty Quinn, who Bob Dylan wrote about, are “building ships and boats” and making, or have already made getaway plans.

Having said all this, Hong Kong is “Home Kong” and home to many of us.

As always, we’ll rise to the challenge and do the best we can with everything WE have and can do to get our home in order and back on whatever is the right track.

What we cannot do, is in the hands of the medical experts, those often forgotten health care workers and politicians who, more often than not, create often crippling laws and “guidelines” that hinder more than help.

Here’s now hoping that those given the power of guiding these professionals don’t keep dropping the ball. It’s not only become embarrassing, it’s become unacceptable.

Watching highly paid politicians juggling different balls in the air to try and make sense to a public already battered and dazed and confused by goalposts being constantly moved stopped working in 2019.


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