When all else fails, grab a couple of ageing local celebrities and have them dance all around the city with ordinary Hong Kong Chinese folks.
What’s interesting is that there’s nothing in the way of diversity in the new “Hello Hong Kong” campaign that once made Hong Kong ”Asia’s World City”- different nationalities, the different restaurants serving cuisine from all around the world led by all the fabulous Chinese cuisine from Sichuan, Shanghai, Beijing and, of course, Hong Kong.
It sends a kinda weird and muddled message to the world- and those foreigners still in Hong Kong.
As for all the singing and dancing, it’s a tad goofy, but has also been an inherent part of Hong Kong marketing and advertising going back all the way to the Seventies.
This is something very different to the use of music as a powerful emotional attachment between a product and consumer.
Music used well and effectively can help inspire and draw people together.
It goes back to the time when Coca-Cola tried to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.
Not so perfect is this first promotion in years by the Hong Kong government to woo tourists from around the region and, one supposes, have former residents who quite recently left the city in droves to return for a visit and see how much things have changed.
Under this somewhat baffling “Hello Hong Kong” theme, trotted out is a buffet of, well, piecemeal odds and sods.
As someone who has worked on campaigns in Hong Kong for the launch of McDonald’s, STARTV, PCCW, and the Keep Hong Kong Clean “Pitching In” campaign for the Government Information Services that featured a cavalcade of local celebrities, I think I know what I am talking about.
I also happened to run the International divisions of Universal Music and EMI Music, worked on projects for Coldplay, Bowie, Gorillaz etc and created the Happy Wednesday brand for the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
Knowing what I know, there’s no cohesive core to anything the government has launched with one left to wonder something as basic as who exactly is saying “Hello Hong Kong”.
Is it Hong Kong talking to itself and trying to convince everyone that the future is so bright one has to wear shades?
Personally speaking, this looks like yet another example of “creative by committee” where the kitchen sink is thrown in with the lowest common denominator picked as the “winner” because it’s safe- albeit ultimately boring.
There’s then the music video where people from different walks of life happily dance throughout Hong Kong with three Canto Pop stars whose popularity was at their peak around twenty years ago.
Perhaps because Hong Kong continues to be stuck in yesterday, and with most of the population on the “mature” side of fifty and even sixty, these now fiftysomething celebrities appeal to this age group.
Where do they fit into saying “Hello” to the world, or at least this region?
One can only assume that Aaron Kwok, with his cheesy “Blue Steel” expression, Sammi Cheng and Kelly Chen are still popular to those who the “Hello Hong Kong” buffet of advertising clichés is trying to attract.
And if not, well, maybe it doesn’t matter.
Let’s just dance like it was 1999.
Maybe it’s all about being seen to be doing something along with the now familiar battle cry of “Hong Kong is back!”
Where did it go?
It tripped up along the way, had Penny Bay fear pumped into the city along with various vaccines and apps during the lockdown and pandemic years by the daily updates from the bumbling housewife Chief Executive.
This was when the government lost the valuable confidence of Hong Kong Belongers.
This confidence needs to somehow be won back.
There’s also a defeatist attitude and a whining Complain Culture hanging over Hong Kong and Macau today and with those who will point out why things can never change and to just let it go and go with the flow.
Why don’t they leave Hong Kong if things are so intolerable?
Because there’s nowhere else for them to go and have the lifestyle to which they are used to by still having Hong Kong as a safety net.
What has me wondering is whether all this unmasked “Hello Hong Kong” joie de vivre in still masked Hong Kong might just be a tad premature?
Though understanding that advertising anything usually involves a certain amount of poetic license, there’s also that ominous warning from Bob Dylan from all those years ago- the one about “Advertising signs con you into thinking you’re the one, that you can win what’s never been won, meanwhile life outside goes on all around you”.
Not to be a party pooper, but haste makes waste, and, more and more, there’s the belief that it’s way too early to sing and dance and say, “Hong Kong is back”, because the Rugby Sevens were held last year and is set to return.
Is this and having families flying into Hong Kong to visit Hong Kong’s new cultural centres enough?
How much “culture” can one take, especially when there’s really not much of a point of difference to any of these?
What’s there in Hong Kong for the younger generation of visitors?
Or don’t they count?
Perhaps some restraint was needed.
Perhaps there was also the need to first make the city more happy and inviting and less suspicious and cautious before begging “the world” to visit Hong Kong by apparently handing out 500,000 free air tickets.
One uses the word “Apparently” because there’s, well, apparently, so much of everything being rolled out, but, apparently, nothing really very clear- and with no sustainability.
Maybe this is the plan: To keep things vague as possible so that things can be constantly “evolving”.
It’s also called playing for time.
It’s also starting to bring back bad memories of the Harbourfest debacle created by InvestHK to bring tourism back to Hong Kong after the SARS pandemic.
The aftermath to this was when the wrong people were left holding the bag while the fat cats ran away with the dish and spoon and everything was neatly swept under the carpet.