Last week, the Hong Kong government revealed the details and upcoming promotional activities as part of the “Night Vibes Hong Kong” campaign, including free MTR rides after 10.30pm, late night movie discounts and a free Wednesday night at Happy Valley Racecourse for the public.
In fact, this has stirred up conversations among HongKongers and the marketing industry as to whether these activities can open up residents’ wallets.
According to media intelligence firm CARMA, the campaign saw over 4,500 mentions across various media platforms from 15 September until 18 September. Of the coverage, 23.9% of mentions were positive, while 11.4% were negative.
On the other hand, social monitoring firm Meltwater saw 21.9% positive, 13.9% negative and 64.2% neutral sentiments regarding the launch of the campaign. Keywords associated with the campaign now include the phrases “night life", "street food hawkers” and “economy”.
Can the campaign bring back the good old days ?
Despite the Hong Kong economy slowly recovering in the post-pandemic era, whether the campaign can bring back the good old days pre-pandemic, or even in the 1980s, when residents could visit a jam-packed area near the Royal Theatre and get a snack from a hawker after watching a midnight movie, remains to be seen, Chris Kyme, creative director, Kymechow told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE.
While we’re unsure whether the “Night Vibes HK” campaign will bring back the nightlife buzz, Kit Yu, creative director, Narrow Door, said the campaign has indeed taken an upbeat, nostalgic approach to reignite HongKongers' passion for the city's iconic nightlife, including inaugurating the campaign with a neon lion dance and neon group dance.
Creatively, it taps into a sense of local pride and evokes fond memories of enjoying nightlife in the "good old days" before the pandemic, she added. She said:
This could be effective in stirring some enthusiasm and desire to rediscover and support nightlife establishments. However, given the current economic climate and people's cautious mindset, it may take more than nostalgia alone to fully reinvigorate night spending.
On the creative front, Rudi Leung, director and founder, Hungry Digital, said the campaign's branding and promotional materials have a somewhat tacky design that is hard to ignore.
“It seems unlikely that a government-led campaign could revive the city's 'night economy' in a meaningful and lasting way. While the incentives provided by various outlets may offer temporary relief, they need to address long-term concerns,” he added.
As we see the campaign as an effort to revitalise the night economy of Hong Kong, Yvonne Ma, founder and managing director, Eighty20, said "activating" this concept means that regardless of the circumstances, conducting business remains fundamentally the same. She added:
It is not just about doing something to stimulate the economy. It’s more about how to do it well. We shall emphasise the need for proactive measures and effective execution to truly boost the economy, rather than simply going through the motions.
What more can be done?
Over the past year, we have seen the authorities striving hard to ignite the passion in local spending by introducing several citywide campaigns, including “Hello Hong Kong”, “Happy Hong Kong” and now “Night Vibes Hong Kong”. However, they have faced criticisms regarding their effectiveness and creativity.
To build on the “Night Vibes HK” campaign's momentum, Narrow Door’s Yu suggested various ways such as launching tactical media partnerships and collaborating on a Hong-Kong-themed late night TV programme filmed on location at nightlife venues, leveraging social media more actively - collaborating with influencers, bloggers to create buzz around iconic nightlife spots and hidden gems.
Looking from a wider perspective, Hungry Digital’s Leung said that the government should tackle the problem at its roots. He added:
The critical issue here is a lifestyle challenge, not a marketing problem. The city's workforce, which includes "salarymen" and "salarywomen" often working long hours, leaving little time for after-work activities during the weekdays.
To genuinely rejuvenate Hong Kong’s after-dark economy – beyond just "nightlife" – a collective effort is required from all levels of society.
“We must rethink our post-work habits and lifestyles to create an environment where employers are encouraged to promote a healthy work-life balance. This will allow their employees to leave work at a reasonable hour and invest time in personal relationships and communal activities,” he added.
Photo courtesy: Klook
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