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Marketing’s favourite HK video ads from the past year

Speaking with Hong Kong’s industry professionals lately, one complaint has repeatedly and inevitably been voiced: “This city really just needs to step back and appreciate the work.” So we thought we’d pay tribute to some of the HK content that has caught our attention. Here’s Marketing’s totally subjective list of the top five HK video ads from the past year.

5. Bank of East Asia – centenary anniversary

Three facts: fish swim, birds fly and Hong Kong is a finance city. But what makes Bank of East Asia’s (BEA) entry by Communion W go beyond the bleeding obvious route of many a dry banking video before it, is expressing the legacy of BEA and how organisations like it have been the bloodlines of the city from the get-go.

A literal stroll through 100 years of Hong Kong’s fashions, its tech, and most importantly its citizens, evolving right alongside BEA, hit a sense of local pride. Oh, and for the camera nerds, the visual transformation – not just the obvious change from black and white to colour, but the shift from loud Kodachrome tones to cool colours – was a nice touch.

4. Nescafé – “Black is a choice”

Nescafé and McCann’s partnered ad on this list is a nostalgia trip of a different type. Riffing on a classic is always a gamble, and there are few local campaigns more iconic than the kitsch oddness that became a decades-spanning run of Bigen Hair Colour commercials.

Casting the star of those ads, Kenneth Tsang, to reprise his role, but with a twist – espousing the benefits of black coffee rather than black hair – was a love letter to the cheesier elements of the city’s ad heritage. What could have felt like a cringe piece of stunt casting had its tongue firmly enough in cheek to let us in on the joke.

3. Osim – Andy Lau, The 4 Hand King

Logic dictates that the moment any creative turns to their colleagues and says, “What if Andy Lau revealed to the world he has four arms?” is almost certainly time for that creative to go home and get some sleep. And sure enough, there is nothing logical about this ad for Osim massage chairs by Uth Creative Group, beyond the stoned logic that massage chairs feel like several pairs of hands grabbing at you.

Yet somehow, even though there is no reason this ad should work, Osim’s total commitment to the extremely silly premise pays off. Perhaps it’s just the sheer joy on Lau’s face trying to become the greatest whack-a-mole champion. We honestly can’t explain it. A lesson that it’s sometimes worth taking a walk on the weird side.

2. HSBC Life – “A promise is a promise”

Kids get obsessed about strange things and when they do, they care about absolutely nothing else. Saatchi & Saatchi made this cheerful and sweet piece for HSBC Life insurance, and like a lot of great work, it taps into an undeniable, honest, and relatable facet of humanity.

Using the staggering neurosis a child would have in caring for something as fragile as an egg as a stand-in metaphor for the legitimate concerns that keep adults up at a night isn’t saccharine, it’s quite apt. The great reveal of the reason behind the child’s level of care and the tag line, “A promise is a promise”, only seals the deal.

1. AXA – “From living life to loving life”

We’re not gonna lie, we’re kind of mad that this ad for AXA by Prodigious has broken us somewhat. Sure, it’s another life insurance advert, but it couldn’t be more different in tone than the last entry.

The crushing stress of modern life, the choking concern of money, and the chilling fear of leaving loved ones behind; this short film (by award-winning director, NAN) captures all those elements and they resonate hard.

The ad draws you so deep into the relationship between an adorable daughter and her no-nonsense mother that when it hits you with the inevitable gut-punch, you are going to cry. We reiterate, when the little girl starts swiping notifications on her mum’s phone, you are going to blubber … and probably buy insurance.

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