It’s the trick-or-treat time of the year again and Hong Kong is seeing loads of physical activities and events celebrating the festival upon the resumption of normalcy in the city.
In fact, Halloween, which falls on 31 October every year, is a festival that originated from ancient Celtic traditions and is known for dressing up, trick-or-treating, as well as festive activities such as parties, costumes, candies and haunted houses.
In Hong Kong, industry players within the local adland are quite familiar with crafting captivating stories to engage audiences during the thrilling Halloween season. However, amidst the demanding workload and exhausting schedules, it's inevitable that many professionals in the industry have encountered their own hair-raising moments.
In light of this, we approached some of the agency leads and industry players to share some of their spine-chilling encounters within this ecosystem.
Here are some of their horrific moments.
Terry Tsang, director, Narrow Door
My most horrible experience happened in my second year in advertising as a copywriter, in which I was tasked to handle a property project alone with art-based partner Philip. We engaged a top-grade director Brian Lai for the job, and he took us all the way to the South of France for one week shooting in various locations, obviously my very first overseas shoot.
We flew to Lyon on the first day and checked in late in a little cottage in a remote village somewhere in the area, pending for day two shoot. I shared the room with my partner Philip. I fell asleep shortly after I checked in to avoid the snoring sound of Philip. However, in the middle of the night, something fell on my chest and choked my throat to the extent that I couldn’t utter a voice.
When I turned to Philip for help, I vaguely remembered I saw some blurry object was over his body too. We both woke up and shared the same visit from the spiritual realm. So we immediately alerted our producer in the other room and asked for a change of room at midnight. However, all rooms were occupied and we eventually slept at the lobby and stayed there till the next morning.
Desmond So, CEO, Uth Creative
During my time in the advertising industry, I experienced a chilling incident that still haunts me to this day. This happened when I was running my own small agency, driven by passion and a strong desire to succeed.
I received a call from a potential client who needed a presentation for their brand-new product launch. Excited about the opportunity to collaborate, the client shared their plans and even brought a sample of the product. However, there was a condition—the boss wanted to personally reveal all the intricate details. So, we arranged a meeting at a restaurant located at China Ferry Terminal.
When I arrived at the restaurant, I found a group of nervous middle-level clients waiting for their boss in a private room. As time passed, one of the clients received a phone call informing us of the boss's unexpected delay. We were left stranded, forced to wait for an hour or more.
Suddenly, the clients casually took out a deck of playing cards and suggested a harmless game with small bets. Unaware of the impending danger, I joined in, fueled by an unexplainable streak of luck. However, deep down, I couldn't ignore the sense of foreboding that lingered in my mind.
At one point, I found myself with almost unbeatable cards, and the bets started to escalate dramatically. After a few rounds, I realised that I had already wagered thousands of dollars. It suddenly dawned on me that it was a trap. Thinking quickly, I made up an excuse about another meeting and attempted to leave. Two of the so-called clients insisted on accompanying me to an ATM machine to collect my bet money since I didn't have enough cash on hand. So, I took the money, paid, and immediately ran away. In the end, I realised that the whole situation had been orchestrated by professional criminals.
This incident serves as a constant reminder to me about the importance of being cautious and aware of potential scams. It was a valuable lesson that I will never forget from my time in the advertising world.
Matt Kwok, creative director, Omelette Digital
My experience in creative agencies wasn't just filled with creative projects, but also supernatural encounters. It was about 10 years ago. My first stint as art director at a creative agency was eye-opening in multiple ways.
While I was busy working at 2am, I heard a phone ring. The ringing continued, echoing through the empty office, spreading from desk to desk. It got closer and closer, until it stopped right behind me. A wave of fear overwhelmed me, so I tried to leave at once. Just when I was getting my courage up to move, I heard a loud bang coming from the men's washroom. I stood frozen, not knowing what to do next as my heart skipped a beat. I murmured, "I'm sorry, I'm leaving." in a trembling voice. What happened that night still eludes me. But I realise it's not wise for me to work overtime until midnight for whatever reasons.
Antony Yiu, CEO, PHD Hong Kong
One of the spookiest moments I have encountered was from my 1st job in a media agency. Our office building was close to the funeral home in North Point. There had been rumors about lights flashing, doors opening, and machines printing at odd hours in the office. One day, I was the only one working late and the A/C was shut off in the building.
I felt the temperature of the office drop suddenly. I tried to put on a jacket, but I somehow felt a constant stream of cold breeze when a concrete pillar was behind my seat, with no air coming from behind.
As I continued to work through the night, things became more eerie. There were conversations from the kitchen area. I went over a few times, and the lights were all off. As it progressed through the night, I heard the exit door creaking, and it sounded like someone was pushing the door open and closed.
By then, I was so afraid that I decided to go home. To make it worse, I waited for the only working lift, but it never stopped on my floor. It just kept going up and down. I was finally too scared and decided to run through the staircase and hail a taxi home.
Kate Kwan, managing director, TEAM LEWIS Greater China Region
There was an incident that happened while I was starting out as an account executive. Not only was I responsible for a press event, I was also doubling up as the event emcee. We had a tight budget to work with and so we opted for a foam backdrop at the event venue which was a small business centre.
As I was opening the session, the backdrop behind me started to fall apart - I remembered holding on to the microphone with one hand, and holding up the backdrop with the other while I waited for my team to come to my rescue. It was a lesson in learning how to keep calm - a valuable skill for any PR professional when it comes to events!
Kenneth Wan, co-founder and director, The Bread Digital
Back in the old days when newspapers were still one of the mainstream media, I was a junior in a media agency. One night, I was working till very late as usual. Office light was centrally controlled which was switched off automatically at midnight. All the lights are gone and I only have my desk lamp on.
Around 3am, I went to the washroom so I was very sure I was the only one in the office. When I was focusing on my work, suddenly, I heard some paper flipping sound. First page, second page, third page… it kept flipping.
Though I was terrified, I couldn't keep my curiosity to see what happened. I went to the newspaper corner and then … “Why are you here???” I yelled. It was one of my bosses who lost his sleep and came back to the office to read the newspaper in the middle of the night. Who will go back to the office to read the newspaper at 3am in the morning!!! I think this won’t happen nowadays as if you lost your sleep, you will just pick up the phone to skim through your Instagram.
Stephen Chung, director, The Secret Tour
In this job field, you know, we got plenty of weird or tough moments with clients. But sharing these? Not so simple, as most of these clients are still in the game with us. Still, there's one story from when I was just starting in advertising. I think I can share this one.
Back then, I was a newbie copywriter at a 4As agency. One day, super long day it was, almost 8pm, a client calls for a debrief on the key visual. I was just a youngster, knackered, and all those comments from the client were really getting to me. Seemed so unreasonable. Once the call ended, or at least I thought it ended, I said something not so nice about the client. I was so done.
Then, a voice comes from the phone, "Are you talking about me?" I almost dropped the phone. It didn't hang up properly, and the client heard everything! That moment, mind went blank. I didn't know how to "explain" - so I just quickly said "no, I was talking to my colleague," thanked her and said bye. After that, I checked the phone so many times to make sure it was really hung up.
The words I used weren't personal, just a way to vent my stress. But I felt so bad for saying it out loud. After that, I was super quiet in any calls with that client for a few days. Until we had to present another project at their office. I was so scared to look at her. But at the end of the meeting, she came to me, smiled and said, "make sure the phone is properly hung up next time!" She was so cool about it, and we were okay after that.
Now, I always triple-check my phone. And I mean always. This lesson was a hard one, but it's kept me on my toes ever since.
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