Let's give Hong Kong the drama it craves
Hong Kong is full of troublemakers. There has always been a rogue spirit among southern Chinese people. For outsiders, they see it in the many local entrepreneurs.
But for those in the know, there is a volcanic passion for storytelling, creativity and politics throughout the community. Hong Kongers are remarkably expressive people, so why don't brands reflect this emotive dynamism and dialogue in their communications?
This presents a massive opportunity for advertisers who are smart and brave enough to do great work and build brands.
People want to be emotionally engaged. This is not new. It has been empirically proven that 95% of cognitive activity is emotional, not rational. And for those that mistake most Asian people to be stoic and pragmatic, you'll be shocked in Hong Kong. This is a city full of romance and tension. It should be the ideal playground for great creative work.
Drama has always been in the DNA of Hong Kong, from the political uprisings of modern history to the seemingly daily street protests. This is not a feeling that is exclusive to the politically engaged. It's found in the intensity of family relations and desire to debate everything.
It's found in the chasm between the rich and the poor. It's also in the language - even the most stately Hong Konger would struggle to hide the emotional inflections inherent in Cantonese.
The desire for inspiration and big ideas is now stronger than ever. The past five years have seen an extraordinary uprising in the creative community. It remains a stronghold for its famed film industry, despite the investment drain from Mainland China.
At a grassroots level, we've seen the re-emergence of music festivals, the fight for better urban planning to accommodate the arts, the push for creative commons, surging attendances at design and art festivals, a sharp rise in underground music and an endless appetite for everything boutique.
Hong Kong is unquestionably a hotbed for big ideas and inspiration. And yet branded communications and content regularly fails to tap into these conversations. It's not about brands delving into cause-related marketing. It's about the recognition that Hong Kong people want to be stimulated and surprised.
The desire to sell versus engage is holding brands back. Given Hong Kong has one of the highest penetrations for Facebook in Asia, the need to do more interesting and insightful creative work is essential to cut it in this robust social media economy.
Hong Kong may be a relatively small market, but it's a place where creative people can do the best work of their lives. A place that is calling out for intrigue, inspiration and provocation from brands. A place where bold social media work and brand experiences can take life.
So how do we get there? Many in the industry feel they need to make a leap of faith with clients, but the way forward is more intelligent than that. It's up to agencies and brands to invest in greater insight and intuition, and clients should be inspired to listen to the stories of people's lives, not focus groups devoid of common sense.
Effective brand work lies in driving real behavioral change by talking to people's hearts as well as their minds. The opportunity is here for all of us. Let's get started.
Andrew Ho is director of planning of DDB Hong Kong.
Festival of Media Asia
The Festival of Media Asia is coming to Singapore in November in partnership with Marketing Magazine.
For speaker information and event details see the site festivalofmedia.com/asia
- DDB Hong Kong
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