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HK still a player despite Profero cashing out

The Hong Kong ad industry has hit back at comments from UK agency Profero that Hong Kong is no longer an important strategic market in Asia.

Following yesterday’s surprise news that the digital agency would close its Hong Kong operation, industry groups have defended the importance of the Hong Kong market in the greater China region.

Richard Thomas, chairman of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies of Hong Kong, said it was wrong to generalise that Hong Kong is not a strategic market, adding that it was more likely a case for the agency involved.

“I completely disagree that Hong Kong is not a strategic market any longer in Asia,” Thomas said.

“It is clear that Mainland China is a massive and growing market, to which all companies need to give serious attention, but this does not need to mean that Hong Kong no longer has importance.”

Earlier this week, Chris Adamson, Profero’s global chief operating officer, told Marketing that Hong Kong was no longer strategically important for the group and said it would shut its Hong Kong office at the end of October.

Marketing now understands digital agencies are lining up to recruit Profero’s local talent.

Andrew Davis, associate director-general of Investment Promotion at Invest Hong Kong, a government body which heavily promotes Hong Kong as a key market for creative companies, said Hong Kong offered many advantages to the creative industry.

“We see Hong Kong and Mainland China as complementary, with Hong Kong having enduring advantages that are particularly attractive to creative industries, like freedom of expression and intellectual property rights; while Mainland China is enjoying strong economic growth and a big consumer market there,” he told Marketing.

“We have seen some new creative industry companies or related businesses coming to Hong Kong this year. Start Creative has already set up and start to expand its office in Hong Kong. Figtree, another boutique design creative agency, has also decided to open business in this city to capture Asian market opportunities. A leading Mainland sportswear brand Li Ning has also chosen Hong Kong to set up its design and R&D centre to develop innovative product design.”

Thomas added that Hong Kong holds a unique mix of international understanding and talent.

“We do not believe that Hong Kong has to suffer as China grows, in fact we believe strongly that it is of real benefit to both Hong Kong and China.

“I have just been in Shanghai with the HK4A’s and the HKTDC promoting Hong Kong’s expertise, experience and international connectivity to an audience of Chinese business and brand owners. Discussing with them the role Hong Kong has to play in both Greater China and Asia.”

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