And The Next Big Thing of AOTY is...

Something of a quiet achiever, the Secret Tour Hong Kong, has emerged with an impressive list of clients alongside a solid bank of campaigns, as Jennifer Chan explains.

Secret Tour originally started life as an alternative tour company, established to explore the hidden gems of Hong Kong. But what started out as a small idea has developed into something big.

KK Tsang, the respected media professional who spent six years as CEO of GroupM Hong Kong, saw an opening for Secret Tour to become a brand experience agency, specialising in integrated marketing solutions with a heavy local touch.

Every since, the agency has expanded to eight people after just over a year and boasts an impressive client list, including LG Electronics, HK Express, New Town Plaza, Pfizer and Sino Group.

Last September the agency played an integral part in LG Electronics’ product marketing pushes, crafting a new brand platform “Hong Kong Life’s Good”, designed to associate LG’s Ultra HDTV with goodness via a set of three TV commercials putting the spotlight on iconic Hong Kong landmarks.

This local touch cemented the relationship with LG and was expanded to the launch of its flagship OLED TV in Hong Kong. A molecular banquet was created to change local’s preference on electronic brands by infusing a heavy dose of local flavour into the brand.

Earlier in February, Chinese New Year festival campaigns were flooding TV screens, but rarely did they speak to the heart of the tradition itself. To explore the true meanings of the festival, Secret Tour created “voice a blessing on red paper” for shopping mall New Town Plaza.

The campaign consisted of a mini game on Facebook, where users were encouraged to vote for the most touching line in the video and vie for a “recordable” red pocket that allows senders to record blessings for the recipients.

A deeper local insight was reflected in another out of home experience for HK Express. The agency threw down gauntlet to test Hongkongers endurance with a patient challenge asking contestants to place their hands on electronic panels installed on a bus shelter for hours, depending on how long it takes to fly a particular destination.

The installation is launched under the company new branding platform “Look up and go fly”, which is tailor-made for locals to address the growing “phubbing” phenomenon in the city. It went with three emotional stories of young couple love, friendship and father and daughter relationship based on real life to tug the hearts of locals.

To redress the problem of growing negative energy on the Internet around our society, Secret Tour has developed a media campaign touted Fortune Map for Fortune Pharmacal, a digital map to invite HK people to "upload" their fortune on the website, or to "like" and "share" others happiness to redeem Fortune Miles in Secret Tour's itineraries for discovering more about the city. A set of 10 heart-warming "fortunate stories" were also launched to enrich Fortune Pharmacal's content feeding on social media.

With a strong belief that big ideas only come from fresh, healthy and happy minds, employees are entitled to full reimbursement on movies, books and regular yoga lessons to keep their creative juice flowing. On top of the 3-3-3 profit-sharing scheme that rewards employees with 30% of agency profit, other benefits that keep staff motivation and loyalty high include limitless OT dinner claim and 2-day birthday leave.

A quiet achiever? Yes. The firm doesn't even have a website and opts to attract clients pragmatically based on past works and word-of-mouth recommendations.

But a small, new, innovative agency, with real clients makes the Secret Tour Hong Kong our Next Big Thing for 2014.