Chris Kyme: Postcard from Hong Kong

Chris Kyme_April2016.jpgWho's going to create the best online film in 2017? Give me something to write home about. Chris Kyme continues his "Postcards from..." series.

Happy New Year everyone. Right now it's a bit quiet here as we're in the middle of that delicious lull that occurs between the Christmas and New Year shut down, and the even more serious one that follows with Chinese New Year. I always love it as you know you can chill out a bit before the real 2017 kicks in. Take the time to catch up with a few people. Get a haircut. Or do some market research in the beer category.

I also spend a bit of time watching local TV, not just because I am watching Korean dramas where everyone walks around looking serious or suspicious all the time. But I like to watch TV ads. It's a form of personal torture. I think I'm on the lookout for the odd rare spot that's any good, but really it's because I love watching celebrities having orgasms over beauty products, and fake perfect families having their lives made happier because of some cooking oil.
Nescafe Hong Kong 2.jpgThis is not so different in any country these days of course. If you truly want to find some good or entertaining gems you have to go online, or have links sent to you by enthused friends, or see what's popping up in the award shows, where the real entertainment lies (perhaps 'real' not being the operative word there I might add). But in order for me to find out what's really getting clicks and likes in the local scene I have to rely on locals in the know who point me in the right direction. Hence me discovering the Nescafe Leon Lai film I wrote about last year, and the creators of that are quite prolific on the online video front. But here's the thing - what makes a good viral? And what's the difference between a good viral and just an online digital film?

If you go by number of clicks, well, yeah. But we all know people tell everyone they know in the universe to go and click likes at the rate of 10 zillion a minute just to convince the client it was money well spent. Actually at the end of the day, you can judge for yourself creatively whether it's boring or not. And many which claim to have been liked by thousands are, frankly, just boring ads extended to 5 minutes. I actually put together a presentation broadly exploring this question, which I wheel out for students some days. It's just a personal observation, and looks into the core clues to what makes a viral successful. There is no guarantee of course, it's a bit like trying to write a hit pop song, who knows whether it will go big or not? (As the screenwriter William Goldman wrote in his excellent book 'Adventures in the screen trade'.. "Nobody sets out to make a bad movie").

I've been involved in some films which went nuts, and others that were 'liked' by about three bored grandmothers. I still believe that a great ad...a great film, will do the job any day. People are people and you don't need to be on the Cannes jury to know that something is great to watch. I know so many people not in our industry who rave about great spots they've seen which are just good 30 second ads that happened to have been found on You Tube.

Carlsberg_Taxi10.jpgAnyway, what the hell am I rambling on about. Ah yes, so. I was asking around what were the more popular virals in Hong Kong in recent months. The Carlsberg 'Taxi' film turned up, which is okay for that sort of thing (although not a patch on the famed Carlsberg cinema film from a few years ago). Playstation VR also, but frankly I found it a bit predictable, just well known people trying out the product. So what? And there are quite a few 3-4 minute spots which are basically just stories with some wacky acting that end up with a product on the end. An idea does not make. What's more, many are just one off executions which are not founded on any well considered longer term brand strategy (okay, Carlsberg are exploring the 'Probably' platform as a trigger again these days), so it's not as if they are connected to any bigger picture. So there's a challenge to Hong Kong for the New Year (both New Years) - who's going to create the best online film in 2017? Give me something to write home about.

Chris Kyme is chief executive officer at Kymechow, Hong Kong.


michael said:

The Carlsberg video is empty. By using actors instead of 'real' people, the element of surprise is dead before it even begins. And it adds nothing to the brand. It is a novelty. Except not very novel as so many brands have been doing the hidden camera routine for years. Kind of pointless, but the agency will direct the client to the views and all will be happy in the world.

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