Analysis: Will HK marketers' obsession with boyband MIRROR reflect long-term gains?

Many brands are now flocking to collaborate with Hong Kong hottest boy band MIRROR. Individual members have been enlisted by brands to leverage their fame and popularity for marketing campaigns and executions. Here at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, we have written many pieces around campaigns that feature them, and we have no doubt that there will be more to come in the near future.

But possibly one of the most hilarious ones we wrote was around the birth of the popular Facebook group "My wife married MIRROR and left my marriage in ruins" which tickled many of our readers. For those of you who might have missed the story, the article essentially detailed the formation of the group by husbands in Hong Kong who are married to fans of the band.  At the time of writing, the group boasted about 288,600 members - way more than the official Facebook page of MIRROR with only about 61,500 users.

A lot of articles online have analysed the rise and popularity of MIRROR. Apart from the band making concerted efforts to build and grow their respective Instagram accounts, the stars were also exposed to the limelight way before their formation due to the reality talent show Good Night Show - King Maker on ViuTV. The show saw support pouring in from labels such as Music Nation Group and of course OTT streaming platform ViuTV. In fact, ViuTv probably played a crucial role to the success of the band given it featured the members of MIRROR heavily in its TV episodes, namely We are the Littles, Ink at Tai Ping, and Ossan's Love (HK version), and as well as variety shows including Battle Feel and Be a Better MIRROR.

Such exposure propelled the members of the group to reach audiences from different age groups cementing their target demographic.

"MIRROR has a lot of things going for them to be sure - the scale of their following, homegrown status, success in remaining both approachable and relatable despite their fame, are a few that stand out. Perhaps one of the most enticing qualities, however, is how decidedly uncontroversial they are - especially in an era when celebrity scandal is often the expectation rather than exception," said Owen Smith, head of strategy, GREY HK.

While MIRROR's success has to date been undeniable, one question that itches at us in the marketing community is that given the plethora of ads the band is now tied to, can yet another ad featuring the boyband or its member really cut through the clutter and remain memorable long-term?

"This is as much a question to MIRROR as it is to brands - what do they want their ‘endorser brand’ to be?" Smith asked

"If their strategy is to be seen as a way to fuel a ‘fan economy’, there will always be fans who choose brands endorsed by favorite celebrities as a way to feel connected to them, whether they exclusively use the brands or not. If they want to become symbolic for a set of qualities and values relevant to anyone, then that might require a different approach," he added. 

Smith used footballer Lionel Messi as an example. "Although I am not a Messi superfan, but I appreciate his resilience, competitive spirit and dedication to excellence as a set of values a wide variety of brands can borrow to build equity and relevance."

Speaking of using celebrities, Wilson Wong, associate marketing director of Price.com.hk, said that the values of having celebrities and influencers in marketing communication is mainly to drive awareness and loyalty building. However, he is of the view that effectiveness may drop if many brands end up using the same celebrities.

"If the celebrity is as famous as MIRROR, the campaign noise could be high at the beginning. While the customer loyalty and brand likability could increase during the campaign period, I question if the same effect will be felt six months later," he said.

At the end of the day, Wong believes customer loyalty lies in core values from the brand and its products, such as product innovation, functionality, after-sales services and brand values which marketers need to make long-term efforts to develop.

Daniel Wu, general manager of Meology, said one problem marketers often facem is in making a campaign shine with a celebrity. This is because celebrities might sometimes be tied to different brands and the amount of investment in bringing them on board is high. Moreover, the number of ads in all markets are increasing every single day. 

“It’s common for brands to flock to certain celebrities that are ‘hottest’ at the moment, but they should really be focusing on how to leverage the celebrity to add value to the brand’s core messages or campaigns which ultimately match its business objectives,” he said, adding: 

A lot of brands embark on partnerships with celebrities or influencers without a clear idea of how to measure success or what they are really after. Wu advices for brands to ask a couple of key questions before working with a celebrity:

  • Am I looking to create awareness?
  • Am I hoping to get more people to consider and notice the brand?
  • Do I want increase in sales and conversion or simply acquisition of buyers (to be later hooked to potentially loyalty programmes)?


Using the example of foodpanda's latest ad in HK with Dayo Wong, Wu said the first touchpoints begins through audience attention. This is where star power plays a pivotal role.

 

But while this is on-going, on the backend, the marketing machine needs to be in top-notch condition to be able to take the upper funnel consumers down the rabbit hole to fully ensure the investment pays off. 

“A lot of audiences paid attention to foodpanda’s ad featuring actor and comedian Dayo Wong, which is the upper funnel of the campaign. Meanwhile, the company also complemented the ad with other marketing programmes in the lower funnel stage to fully leverage the mass awareness garnered in the campaign. Without all these supporting programmes, would the celebrity effect be the same as effective? I would highly doubt that,” Wu explained. 

The campaign, Wu speaks of was created by Curious Few and Carat Media Services Hong Kong, featuring Wong in a 100-second video. Wong delivers a simple yet important message: Is there something more than just putting food on the table in our lives?

In the ad, Wong also asks several existential questions to pique the viewer's curiosity and share his take. After which, Wong shares foodpanda Hong Kong's evolution to becoming a one-stop platform for consumers’ needs.

At the end of the day, to determine if a hefty star-studded investment is worth making, brands would have to ensure their ROI justifies the cost. To this point, Wan Hou Yin, country director of influencer marketing agency Gushcloud Malaysia told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that clear objectives needs to be set out to before jumping into the collaboration.

“I would recommend for the brand to make it very clear from the beginning if this is primarily an awareness campaign or a sales performance campaign,” he said, adding:

Should it be awareness, the measurement metrics should be on PR value, views, engagements. If it is on sales performance, then the conversion of sales is key.


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