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MIRROR's global ambition comes at a strategic time, but what more is needed for breakthrough?

MIRROR's global ambition comes at a strategic time, but what more is needed for breakthrough?

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The recent launch of Hong Kong boy band MIRROR’s first ever English single has gotten many fans in Hong Kong excited for the band's global ambitions and reach of Cantopop. The song Rumours has drawn a range of reactions from fans showing support. According to media intelligence firm CARMA, the song saw a total of 8.2k mentions globally regarding the new song over the past few days, with 42.3% positive and 2.6% negative sentiments across local social platforms. Keywords associated with the boy band's latest single include "language", "sexy", "exclusive" and "sensual".

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Don't miss: MIRROR goes global with first English single 'Rumours' 

MIRROR has been a hot favourite not just with fans, but also advertisers here in the Hong Kong market. Some of the campaigns the band has been a part of include work for FWD Insurance, Coca-Cola, Watsons, amongst others.

Nonetheless, in the past few months, the band has been somewhat more silent given the tragic accident which occurred during its show in July last year, which left one of its dancers seriously injured after a giant screen crashed on him.

However, with the news of their plans for global domination, it might just revive the fire fans have for the band.

Breaking into the global market with diversity in talent

With a 12 member strong brand, one way to resonate better with the global market would be to create distinct personalities for each member of the band, said Candy Tong, founder and director at Above The Line which focuses on PR and marketing solutions.  Each member of the boy band has his own talent, and should now create their own styles beyond dancing, singing and composing songs.

She added that choosing to launch an English song to reach overseas Chinese listeners, and potentially foreigners, is also a good move.

Agreeing with her is Chris Kyme, co-founder and creative director of Kymechow, a creative services agency specialising in building brands and driving effective marketing campaigns. He said that releasing an English song is a smart move for the boy band, and there can be some success in breaking overseas. He added that looking at the way Korea markets its pop culture overseas is also definitely something Hong Kong artists can learn from.

Meanwhile, creative agency Turn Creative’s executive creative director Tony Hon also said that MIRROR is a very local boy band and the members must identify their strength and market positioning. “For example, the best dancing boy band in Asia, the best singer-songwriter band in Asia. Brands will come to them naturally, while MIRROR finds its precise and unique positioning,” he added. 

Riding the Asian wave

Currently, the Asian dominance in Hollywood is well felt. K-pop stars BTS have long been lauded for their phenomenal success in breaking into the Western market. Meanwhile Netflix shows such as Bling Empire are also putting more focus on Asian personalities. And needless to say, Michelle Yeoh's monumental Oscar win has also placed a fair amount of attention on Asian talent. 

What Asian talents' prominence in Western markets indicate is the need for artists to focus on their unique talents, creativity, and passions to resonate with a diverse audience across various cultures and entertainment preferences, said Miuson Chi, general manager of MSL Group, an agency focused on integrated communications and influencer marketing.

He added that in today's increasingly globalised entertainment industry, artists must adapt, innovate, and collaborate across borders to succeed.

“MIRROR's new English single is an example of how artists can engage with their fans in different communities and cultures. While expanding their reach worldwide may not necessarily be their primary goal, it's an opportunity to connect with a broader audience and showcase their talents to a wider fan base,” he said.

While learning from K-pop is definitely a good start, PR professionals such as David Ko, managing director, RFI Asia remained conservative about MIRROR's global ambition.

"The key question is whether the boy band brings something unique to the table that helps them stand out against stiff competition from K-Pop and international boy bands. I love that they have huge ambitions. But the journey ahead is very long," he added.

Visibility is key

While talent is no doubt key, Above The Line's Tong, said that visibility is equally important. Taking reference from local pop stars such as Andy Lau and Aaron Kwok during the 1990s, she said that these local stars established a unique impression and brand image beyond Hong Kong. Furthermore, participating in international movies and TV dramas, as well as collaborating with international artists are also ways to make noise beyond Hong Kong.

“I believe MIRROR can utilise its advantage of being a multilingual band to expand its brand presence globally," she added.

Adding on, Leung Chung, managing partner, creative, SUNNYIDEA which focuses on entertainment and creative solutions, said that MakerVille’s role is also very critical in this instance. “If MakerVille can bring Mirror to collaborate with international artists, participate in global music events, I am sure they can expand their presence and reach to the whole world through social media. At the same time, they can attract brand sponsorships beyond Hong Kong,” he said

Fizzling out in the local market?

While MIRROR no doubt made its presence felt in the Hong Kong market, experts MARKETING-INTERACTIVE spoke to seem to agree that the brand’s impact on advertising spend and ROI is fizzling out little by little.

According to Ko, MIRROR is seeing an alarming waning in fan passion due to them being seen as ‘money-grubbing’ and promiscuous in their brand endorsement activities. As such, the public may struggle to associate them with a specific brand, which diminishes the effectiveness of the marketing campaign.

“Using MIRROR also risks overshadowing the brand itself, with consumers focusing more on the stars than the product,” he said.

Agreeing with his view was Kyme, who said local artists such as MIRROR are completely overused in Hong Kong. "When you pay for celebrities that everyone else is using, all the public remembers is the celebrity, not your brand. If you’re using celebrities that are not the most visible, for a good reason, that’s different,” he added. 

While MIRROR is still capable of creating buzz, brands should consider their brand identities carefully, explained Uth Creative's CEO Desmond So. At the end of the day, brand loyalty should be rooted in brand values, attitude, and triggered by relevant consumer insights.

“Brands must question if consumers prefer a brand that follows trends or one that is original? Advertisers should spend more effort in defining their brand value clearly instead of solely relying on celebrity endorsements for short-term results. I am not opposed to using celebrities, but a relevant and creative approach will have better mileage,” he said.

He said an example of this was utilising Keung To to appeal to a younger audience and generate social buzz. But where the campaign, however, fell short, was in the messaging which So found somewhat unrelated to the product. "My understanding is that Coke Zero is marketed as sugar-free and tasting like the original Coke. It is difficult for me to associate Keung To with sugar-free since he is known for weight fluctuation. Perhaps the idea was to play with the concept of "original," but it did not come across clearly,” he shared.

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