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Beyond starring celebrities: How can HK better leverage movie stars to promote courtesy

Beyond starring celebrities: How can HK better leverage movie stars to promote courtesy

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Hong Kong’s latest hospitality campaign has caused buzz and gotten the marketing industry talking as to whether the use of celebrities can convey the message to frontline staff in the city.  

The three-phase hospitality campaign, themed "Let’s go the extra mile” (做多一步 好客之道)", was created to promote Hong Kong’s hospitality culture. As part of the campaign, the first video featuring local star Louis Koo (古天樂) has been launched. Meanwhile, video teasers featuring Jessica Hsuan (宣萱), Kevin Chu (朱鑑然) were also made available on social media platforms of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB). 

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to HKTB for more information. 

Don't miss: HKTB reportedly banks on Louis Koo to promote hospitality culture

The campaign has drawn mixed reactions from netizens. Over the past week, media intelligence firm CARMA observed more than 300 mentions related to the campaign. Of these, 35.5% carried a positive sentiment, while 8% were negative. 

Many netizens welcomed the campaign, believing that customer service and attitudes towards tourists have gone down dramatically over the past decade, said CARMA’s HK GM Charles Cheung.  

“However, some netizens questioned the target audience of the campaign. While Koo is well-known locally, he isn’t as popular among the younger generation. As such, some speculated that the campaign is aimed more at older generations rather than younger ones,” he said.  

Social monitoring firm Meltwater also saw a total of 334 mentions among netizens over the past week, with 46.4% positive, 51.2% neutral and 2.4% negative sentiments. Keywords associated with the campaign include “HKTB”, “Kevin Yeung”, “tourism”, “Louis Koo”, “Ng Siu Hin”, “Jessica Hsuan”. 

Industry reactions

Industry players MARKETING-INTERACTIVE spoke to also applauded the campaign message of "going the extra mile”.

Chung Leung, managing partner, creative, Sunny Idea Hong Kong said the first episode, featuring an audition, cleverly plays on the classic Andy Lau style of "What does it take to deliver top-notch service nowadays?" by incorporating different modern actors and actresses with a hint of mystery.  

This initial intrigue is maintained until the second episode, where the reveal of Koo as the mysterious cast member in authentic scenarios alongside daily moments feels somewhat, however, predictable, he added.  

In fact, it makes sense to encourage the front-line industries to get behind the tourism cause. However, knowing Hong Kong people, and it’s only some who have bad service attitude such as some grumpy restaurant staff and craft taxi drivers, it will take more than just a well-intended and cheerful ‘Let’s work together’ appeal, said Chris Kyme, co-founder and creative director, Kymechow.  

“I think a platform that puts the sense of this into benefits to them and their business, which is – more income. This was done very well by the Singapore Tourism Board back in the 1980s,” he added. 

Authenticity is also key when it comes to showcasing the reality of Hong Kong’s cultural scene, said Annika Park, senior strategist, TBWA\Hong Kong.

“If Hong Kong is serious about providing our guests and visitors a hospitable experience, we need to be honest and clear about who we need to talk to and what would get them to listen. Otherwise you’re just shouting into the void.”  

How can HK movie stars be better leveraged in the campaign? 

There is no doubt the use of Hong Kong celebrities is one of the main focuses of the campaign, including Koo, who stars in the recent martial arts movie Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In that shot to fame. 

On the creative front, Park said Hong Kong should be partnering with its finest movie stars because their celebrity status serves as a platform for change, not just because they’re famous.  

“Rather than just use them as ‘actors’ in show-and-tell style ads, imagine having Koo jump into a real taxi and engage in an unscripted, raw, human conversation with a taxi driver,” she said. 

“Showing compassion to their physically laborious work, hearing their stories of a life on the road, laughing over funny passenger anecdotes. Watching these iconic celebrities interact and be “one of them” would have been a much more effective way-in to convince service sector staff to be a more hospitable ambassador to the city, versus an instructional video series starring a few celebrities, she added. 

To better leverage Hong Kong movie stars and showcase the city’s culture of mutual respect, the promotion could explore more unexpected and unconventional scenarios, said Sunny Idea’s Chung.  

“Instead of solely focusing on daily life, the campaign could embrace fictionalised, storytelling-driven narratives that highlight the beauty and depth of HK's culture,” he added. 

Join us this coming 26 June for Content360 Hong Kong, a one-day-two-streams extravaganza under the theme of "Content that captivates". Get together with our fellow marketers to learn about AI in content creation, integration of content with commerce and cross-border targeting, and find the recipe for success within the content marketing world!

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