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'Monthly fireworks and drone shows may ramp up marketing budgets,' say HK adland leaders

'Monthly fireworks and drone shows may ramp up marketing budgets,' say HK adland leaders

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Hong Kong’s finance chief Paul Chan delivered his eighth budget on Wednesday, scrapping the decade-old cooling measures aimed at curbing speculation and highlighting the importance of promoting the digital economy and the Hong Kong brand. He will be providing more than HK$1 billion to organise mega events in Hong Kong.

The city’s leader John Lee appealed to all sectors of the community to support the 2024-25 Budget, saying it has responded to the expectations of the public and enterprises while consolidating the momentum of recovery.

Don't miss: 6 key takeaways for the HK marketing community from Budget 2024

Lee said amid the uncertain geopolitical situation and economic fluctuations, this Budget puts forward a series of concrete measures to bolster confidence, respond to the expectations of the public and enterprises and consolidate the momentum of recovery.

“Taking a long-term view, we are committed to promoting Hong Kong’s high-quality development, accelerating the growth of strategic industries, nurturing talent and strengthening our competitiveness,” he said.

“I welcome the Budget’s fiscal consolidation programme, which focuses on restoring fiscal balance while fully taking into account the financial constraints of the public and businesses.”

The convenor of the non-official members of the Executive Council (ExCo) Regina Ip said during a media briefing that the theme of this year’s Budget is to be confident about Hong Kong’s future and to grasp the opportunities and to promote high-quality development.

“On the whole, we consider this to be a highly comprehensive and prudent financial budget that will help Hong Kong return to growth and keep public expenditure under control.”

Business chambers in Hong Kong are also supportive towards the latest Budget. Jonathan Choi, chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce said the Budget accepts a number of recommendations put forward by the committee, including the elimination of cooling measures in the property market, measures to boost business confidence and talent attraction.

He said the optimisation of the development of fintech  industries and measures in deepening regional cooperation can help enhance Hong Kong's  overall competitiveness and attractiveness.

As the authorities praise this “appropriate and pragmatic” budget, what do players of the advertising and marketing industry think? Let's take a look at what are the views of some of the adland leaders MARKETING-INTERACTIVE reached out to on this year’s Budget.

Yvonne Ma, founder and managing director, Eighty20

It’s crucial to have more tourism events in Hong Kong, such as additional entertainment events at the harborfront and monthly fireworks displays. These undoubtedly add value for many short-haul travellers. However, it's essential to assess whether the fireworks alone will attract visitors or merely serve as an add-on to their trip.

Instead of allocating a substantial budget to monthly fireworks displays, it may be more strategic to focus on urban strolling, as highlighted in the proposal, and develop additional offerings around this concept. Collaborating with various creators to showcase the distinctiveness of each district could be a game-changer. Hong Kong is unique due to its compact size and diverse culture and scenery at different corners. Expanding on this concept could yield substantial benefits.

In addition to the strategies outlined in the policy, I'd like to see the Hong Kong government partner with developers to attract more unique overseas brands, theme parks, and museums to Hong Kong, in order to stand out and differentiate from nearby cities.

Furthermore, Hong Kong would benefit from well-planned international mega events, such as world-class concerts, music festivals, or sports events, to attract high spenders from around the world. Given Hong Kong's strategic location, many international brands are likely still interested in organising major events in the city. Our government can play a more proactive role, either by taking the lead or driving collaboration across various parties, to prepare well in advance to compete with other nearby cities or countries.

It is essential to adopt a more strategic approach, targeting more overnight visitors and short-haul travellers to encourage longer stays and increased spending. While the tactics may vary significantly, the overall goal remains the same: to position Hong Kong as a premier tourism destination, providing unique and immersive experiences that showcase the city's rich cultural heritage and modern vibrancy.

Alice Chow, CEO, GroupM HK

It is great to see the Hong Kong Government invest in monthly fireworks and drone shows to attract more tourists to Hong Kong, a commendable effort that has the potential to benefit a wide range of businesses and increase their marketing budgets.

When it comes to marketing to tourists, social media and KOLs play a pivotal role. What sets GroupM apart is our utilisation of AI technology. We have developed a proprietary AI tool that effectively identifies the most suitable YouTubers and KOLs for campaigns, ensuring measurable results and campaign effectiveness. This advanced technology is versatile, extending its reach to platforms like WeChat and Douyin in China, as well as TikTok in other target markets.

Through our investment and development of AI tools, we drive better ROI for our clients by seamless integration of these tools with global advertising platforms. It is time for marketers to embrace the beauty of AI, and get to know how it could benefit not only campaign performance but business outcomes.

Rudi Leung, director and founder, Hungry Digital

I am glad to see that the decade-old “spicy” restrictions on the property market have been removed. While this may not have an immediate effect on the market, it could at least slow down its decline. Hong Kong's economy and consumer confidence are closely tied to the property market, so I hope this move will benefit our city's overall economy, including the marketing industry.

In terms of tourism tactics, the budget's allocation of over HK$1.09 billion towards tourism development and event organisation presents an opportunity for the marketing industry. However, I am skeptical about some of its tactics, such as fireworks or drone shows. These are not unique or sustainable attractions for tourists. We must look deeper and create unique experiences to attract the new generation of tourists since the shoppers' tourists are mostly gone.

On the other hand, the Budget's support for AI development, technology transfer offices, and start-ups engaged in AI-related fields can foster collaborations between the advertising industry and technology companies. This can lead to the development of AI-powered advertising technologies, an area in which Hong Kong is falling behind our neighboring markets.

Natalie Yu, content and communication director, OMG Hong Kong

The government's recognition of KOLs' power and decision to shift from traditional celebrity endorsements to leveraging KOLs to promote Hong Kong is a great move. However, selecting the "right" KOLs presents challenges due to the wide range of KOL categories and global considerations. Various factors such as audience demographics, cultural preferences, and engagement patterns, must be considered.

Thorough research and analysis are essential to ensure the chosen KOLs have genuine connections, credibility and authenticity. Evaluating reach, engagement rates, content quality and brand alignment is also crucial.

The selection process requires a comprehensive understanding of the KOL landscape, proper planning and strategic partnerships. By carefully considering these factors, the government can ensure effective collaborations that successfully promote Hong Kong!

Jeffrey Hau, co-founder and CEO, Prizm Group Hong Kong

It is truly gratifying to see active and ambitious initiatives aimed at boosting tourism and elevating the energy of our city. However, for example, we need to approach initiatives such as the monthly fireworks and drone show with a clear mind of its cost-effectiveness on multiple levels. Does this align with the palate of our target tourist demographics, as well as whether they would deliberately plan their visits around this monthly event? While an increase in tourist numbers is always welcome, we should focus on attracting the specific group of tourists we are currently short of.

I second the idea of hosting mega business events to attract business travelers. Not only do these events provide economic value to Hong Kong, but they also serve to revitalise the city's image as a world city. However, it's important to recognise that it's not just the event itself that entices participants. The surrounding buzz, activities, after-parties, culinary scene, and available city day tours all contribute to the overall appeal. It's not just about the hardware; the software, such as the experiential offerings, is equally crucial.

Utilising overseas influencers to promote the city is indeed a promising approach. However, success lies in the details. We must carefully select the right influencers and provide them with appropriate guidance and frameworks to ensure that the content they create is genuinely appealing and convincing to the audience, devoid of promotional undertones.

Milton Liao, managing director of Wavemaker Hong Kong and chief business officer of Wavemaker South China

For Hong Kong’s plan to roll out measures to boost tourism — including holding monthly fireworks and drone shows and organising seasonal activities for the cities are good strategies to regain tourists. In 2023, mainland China suffered a clear consumption downgrade.

This makes shopping and upscale dining in Hong Kong even more expensive. Another threat to shopping in Hong Kong is Mainland China consumers’ increasing preference for China brands and goods that are made in China. This makes the market size decrease for these consumers to go shopping in Hong Kong for Western brands and products.

Creating a more unique Hong Kong experience, especially one that best leverage Hong Kong’s unique harbour side experience will help to offset these challenges. One can imagine standing on the harbour, surrounded by the glittering lights of one of the world’s best city skylines, while the sky suddenly erupts in a dazzling display of colour and sound of the firework and drone show. This left the tourists breathless and filled with wonder. This experience is not found in Mainland China’s key cities for now or in the near future. Seasonal harbour events such as shows, concerts, or sports events will add much more fun.

The city should market this idea more aggressively in Mainland China. Today’s advertising technology allows us to reach consumers who have travel plans to Hong Kong and who will be looking for such experiences. They will receive the relevant promotion messages from the time they start to explore for general information, booking tickets and hotels, to the moment when they start their trips. In the Wavemaker GBA team, we help brands to identify these target audiences effectively by their online search and browsing activities. Then we select social media and out-of-home impactful sites to bring the message to life.

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!

Related articles:

6 key takeaways for the HK marketing community from Budget 2023
'Substantial effort in pooling talents needed in HK Budget 2023', say HK adland leaders

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