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Like most places on Earth, there are some intense rivalries between districts/regions/countries … and in the case of HK, one of their key competitors is Singapore.
You can understand why, because whereas once HK was the jewel in the Asia commercial crown, the buggers have now been taken over by that size-of-a-currant-on-the-World-map island down the road.
There’s a bunch of reasons for this – hunger, investment, foresight, apathy, moments of madness … however if HK is not careful, it’s role in international business could be in serious danger because companies can now choose between going either straight into China or one of the other countries that are investing more heavily in attracting foreign trade/organisations.
There is still hope – but its success depends on whether they appoint us to the recent pitch they called, haha!
Anyway, the reason for this post is that I recently got asked by Media Magazine for my view on the difference between HK and Singapore creative industries.
Now if you remember, I wrote something about this a while back … however as Media is professional and serious, they covered it by writing this …
Now even though that is what I said, there’s still something wrong with the article.
Putting aside the fact we’re not a bloody brand consultancy, but a creative planning company … the reality is that I come across waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too nice.
This is the 2nd time this has happened …
I recently got asked about a regional client we’ve just won and said “ultimately our brief is to put the fear of God into their Asia-Pacific competition” … but what ended up getting printed was soooooo straight, I worried I’d become an accountant or something. Seriously, don’t these journo’s know I have a ‘grumpy’ personality to nurture, ha!
OK, so in this case I did ask the very lovely journo if he could tone down my comments somewhat [as I went on a total, manic rant] … but I still wish he hadn’t been so brilliant at his editing because I don’t think it expresses how totally buggered I feel HK adland is.
[Though to be fair, the article was less about that and more about the country as a whole, so just ignore me – like usual – and let me rant]
Anyway, as I mentioned in the article … the culture of HK is VERY creative and there are certainly some very talented and brilliant people here, but as a general overview, I can honestly say I have never been in a country with such a bad industry attitude.
Yeah … yeah … people might say Vietnam or Iraq is worse, and whilst I haven’t been to the latter, I would guess the people in both those countries are hungrier, more open, more collaborative than the typical HK ad person … and that makes me ill because even though I have little to do with the local market, I live here and I don’t want that to be the environment I am exposed to on a daily basis.
It’s because of this I – along with some colleagues and friends at BBH and W+K – are in the process of setting up a formal Asia creative planning group [think APG, but with creatives, not just planners], so that people who want to try and make a difference can be inspired, encouraged and challenged to make it happen.
[Obviously my role will be just to put the tables out as I can’t even inspire the cat to sit on my lap, let alone get people to think bigger]
Once its set up, I hope people in HK will join – but to be honest, I’d rather it was guys who were interested in joining adland rather than those already in it, because it will require an ability to listen to objectivity, which in my limited experience is something local adfolk find almost universally impossible to do.
Have I got a downer on the HK ad market?
No shit Sherlock.
Look I know this all sounds like I’m putting myself on a creative pedestal and maybe I am – but if my Mum saw/heard/experienced how some people in this market act – even she’d think the majority are a bunch of arrogant and delusional fools.
So why is this happening?
Well there’s a few reasons …
A lack of agency training is probably part of it [or more correctly, a lack of GOOD training given this is a market that once had people in it who were nicknamed ‘FILTH’ which stood for Failed In England, Try Hong Kong] as is a lack of global creative exposure … and I would be lying if I didn’t talk about how a lot of HK business only wants lowest-common-denominator, celebratory endorsed wallpaper … but I think it’s more than that … I think it goes back to the fact that 12 years ago, HK was King of Asia and it breeded an arrogance that has remained to this day, despite the fact the glory years packed up and left long ago.
Thank god there are some great people and regional companies here [including my stupidly wonderful guys, who keep me sane and excited] … thank Jesus, Allah and Buddha there is a legacy of great and brave creative … and halle-bloody-lujah the culture of the country is vibrant, energetic, entrepreneurial and colourful … but for all that inspiration, I find it both sad and amazing that so many can go along with their noses in the air when the only interesting and relevant creative thing they have ever been able to produce is their CV.
Wake up HK, it’s time the countries ad industry became a lion again, not this over-pampered pussy.
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