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Why the city of Hong Kong needs a Mr. Brightside.

It would be fair to say that creativity, especially strategic creative thinking, has gone walkies in Hong Kong while some who know about it happened, continue to question why the current Hong Kong government continues to fund something as flaccid as CreateHK.

Not to go over all-too familiar terrain, but it’s hard not to think about the now retired and rather controversial government mouthpiece Duncan Pescod, below, promising the city over two decades ago of a “worldwide search” for someone to lead the charge at CreateHK and upgrade the standards of the Hong Kong creativity community. 

We’re still waiting for this “worldwide search” whereas taxpayers’ money continues to flow into CreateHK with practically no one knowing what this organisation actually does- and who is in charge of it.

Zorro or Zero?

It’s no different to how the government has used taxpayers’ money on the various misguided attempts to attract tourists- international tourists-back to Hong Kong.

Looking at work done for “Hello Hong Kong” and “Thank you, Hong Kong”, and even the tacky “Night Vibes”, the question to be asked is, “Why?” 

Moving right along and sidestepping just how badly standards in Hong Kong have fallen- standards in English, standards in the creative product, standards of quality in just about every facet of life- we come to the subject of ideas- ideas that come in many different shapes and sizes.

What’s always needed is how to turn ideas into reality that works.

Sounds simple, but it’s not, especially these days where “creativity” and “fame” have become entangled in the mire and crossed wires of what’s known as “social media” with its dime store “influencers” and algorithmic created “likes” and “followers”.

All this nothing of everything leads me to the first time I heard of Mr Brightside. This was when it was released as a track by one of my favourite bands- the Killers.  

To those not into horse racing, in Australia, there is the champion galloper also named Mr Brightside and who won what’s called the Futurity Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday. 

Ridden by Craig Williams and trained by the Hayes brothers, below, whose father and Hall Of Famer David Hayes, trains in Hong Kong, it was the type of win one expects from a $1.35 favourite. 

Odds and sods and whirlpools and World Pools and the vociferous barking man called Hoss aside, what made me prick up my ears was hearing that there just might be the chance of the galloper coming to Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s International Races in December, and perhaps renewing his rivalry with Romantic Warrior.

To those who wouldn’t know quinellas from quesadillas, Romantic Warrior is the champion Hong Kong galloper who managed to just pip out Mr Brightside the last time they met in one of the most prestigious races in the Australian racing calendar known as the Cox Plate. 

Being a Hong Kong Belonger who’s been part of the creative community for four decades and looks at everything that might revive the brand image of Hong Kong, an equine Mr Brightside in the city could be a good starting point- a starting point to shine a sustained positive light on the city and be one helluva good marketing and PR coup that would interest the international mainstream media.

This cannot work as only a horse racing story where, no matter how many “superstar” jockeys are flown into Hong Kong at huge expense and tax benefits, it’s extremely hard for taxpayers not in the game to see a return on investment.

Last night, a hardcore Hong Kong born racing fan- or is he, anymore?-mentioned to me after the races at Shatin yesterday how “there were no on course vibes at all though the horse racing was very good.”

This is not something that the HKJC can afford to turn a deaf ear to as, well, the natives are getting restless and the widening chasm between the very privileged and the underprivileged must close.

The Basily Fawlty audio system suddenly going south during the Cup presentation ceremony couldn’t have helped- but, as asked many times, who really watches these acts of insincerity for the sake of a photograph for the mantle piece?

My old friend Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the CEO of what is still known as the Hong Kong Jockey Club, must have heard that glitch. He must also realise that in these days and nights of streaming and a dwindling expat community, those who go racing are largely from Hong Kong’s “home for the aged”.

They have no aspirational values other than perhaps gnawing on a fried chicken wing and talking with their mouths full about the next race.

The HKJC needs to upgrade everything it does instead of appealing to the lowest common denominator. It also needs to be more likeable.

In order to move forward and make good things happen, let’s never forget The Peter Principle and just how often incompetence has been promoted and mediocrity rewarded.

Through a campaign built around the possible clash between the the city’s Romantic Warrior and Australia’s Mr Brightside and marketing off-shoots introducing the world to the different bright sides of Hong Kong life, here’s a way to also re-introduce those who live here to everything already here.

The grass is often not greener elsewhere. It’s rather arid and unwelcoming.

This campaign, and which my OneTeam will start this week, is where there will be a multi tiered campaign to make Hong Kong- and maybe even horse racing- be seen as being much more than they are right now and bring a much needed bright side to Hong Kong- and perhaps even the world.

It’s time to Think Big.

It’s also time to do bigger and better to avoid terminal shrinkage.


Wait and see.


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