Marketing industry reacts to Hong Kong protests

Agency bosses shared their opinions on the Hong Kong protests and how they will affect the marketing industry.

Industry execs took out an ad denouncing police brutality during the Hong Kong protests.
Industry execs took out an ad denouncing police brutality during the Hong Kong protests.

HONG KONG: A full-page ad in Tuesday’s Apple Daily newspaper denounced the recent violence involving tear gas and pepper spray on Hong Kong protesters. Published in black and white, the ad copy translates roughly to: "Real brutality, fake universal suffrage. Hong Kongers don’t fight one another," with a small tagline at the bottom of the page saying: "Zero violence and true universal suffrage is what the advertising industry supports, all the way."

Oscar Lo, integrated planning manager of Buspak Advertising, led the initiative with 49 "like-minded" friends in the industry, including employees of ZenithOptimedia, Starcom, MEC, Mindshare, Maxus, and Mediacom. Lo told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the police in Hong Kong should not abuse their power.

"We’re sending a very clear message," Lo said. "The purpose of advertising, after all, is to spread correct messages that show care for society. It is our responsibility, as people in advertising, to do that since we are able to do it more efficiently and effectively with our professional capabilities. Communications is the most powerful weapon for the moment."

Campaign Asia-Pacific spoke to several other agency bosses to gather their opinions about the Hong Kong protests and their impact on marketing both now and in the future.

CC Tang, chairman for Hong Kong and chief creative officer for Greater China, Havas Worldwide:
"Brands should know that young people can’t be preached to, can only be connected. So far, clients have indicated they would like to lie low on social media since most are dominated by stories of the protests. Some of our staff opts to take part to support the movement. We have to respect what they believe is right."

Samuel Mak, CEO, Madison Communications:
"2015 marketing activities may have to be reviewed immediately. In general, marketers will adopt a ‘wait and see’ attitude and hence they put a break on marketing spending. For sure, many activation activities may need to either be postponed or cancelled due to a paralysis of normal consumer behavior. Business continuity and safety are two priorities as this crisis heats up. A few clients have activated their crisis-management procedure and we are part of the team."

Sue McCusker, CEO, Publicis Hong Kong:
"The upside is a greater sense of identity. Hong Kongers will have a stronger sense of self, and this could revitalize brand communication…The implications could be a knock to Hong Kong’s economy, which will affect how brands spend in the near future."

This story is an excerpt from one that originally appeared on Campaign Asia-Pacific, PRWeek’s sister title at Haymarket Media. Click here to read the story in its entirety.

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