In protest against the government’s rejection of Ricky Wong’s HKTV license, a Facebook group that asked the public to turn off their TV on 30 October is back.
The second planning wave of switching off is due to take place next Tuesday during TVB’s annual Anniversary Awards – one of its highest rating programs.
Though TVB’s viewership ratings dropped 10% in that four-hour period last month, according to Maxus managing director Caroline Chan (which is in charge of TVB spots like Tissot and Maxim Mooncakes), she is skeptical that the upcoming boycott will actually have any impact.
“No advertiser has pulled ads out of that period as far as I’m concerned," she said.
"The boycott is still very much an online-driven movement. But that being said, we’ll still monitor the media reaction to the campaign to see how we should advise our clients if they have a campaign launch next Tuesday.”
Margaret Ho, deputy general manager at Starcom MediaVest – the media agency for Samsung, agreed.
“So far there’s no impact on our clients. Some of them don’t even know about this campaign. The TVB Anniversary Awards is still very much a highlight for advertisers.”
When asked whether clients have moved their campaigns in the past to avoid any correlation with negative news, such as special reports of natural disasters, she said these situations are rare and it’s likelier for TVB to move her clients’ TV spots to adjust to their programmes instead.
Managing director of Mindshare Hong Kong, Paul Gibbons, who looks at brands like Disneyland and HSBC, expands the question into the value of terrestrial TV.
“We did see some impact on the first ‘No TV campaign’: for a number of audiences we saw ratings decline, but I see this is more of a one-off event,” he said.
“The broader question is whether advertisers still see value in terrestrial TV. Engaging content and quality drama will always be in demand but the competition for attention amongst all screens – mobile and tablet – is increasing."
Though the fight for freedom of speech is appreciated, how effective this guerilla campaign is, is debatable at the end of the day. Why? Despite the dawn of the multi-screen era, TVB is still very much a monopoly in the Chinese television medium; so until that medium becomes obsolete, no boycott will work.