Chris Kyme: Postcard from Hong Kong

Chris Kyme_April2016.jpgChris Kyme continues his "Postcard from Hong Kong" series and this month his topic is dumb ways to work ...

Greetings and having just returned into action after a welcome Chinese New Year break may I say Kung Hei Fat choy and Gong Xi Fa Cai depending on where you are from. Looking forward to the Year of the Pig. I always feel that our year doesn't really get started until we get over the CNY break, our double-whammy of festivities in this part of the world.

But now it has and I'm raring to go. Go where exactly I'm not quite sure although Yunnan is Spring is looking quite attractive. Meanwhile, that familiar subject of ads that look 'uncannily familiar' raised its head over the holidays. Sitting in the local cinema and being greeted by a pre-roll video asking everyone to be good citizens during the film and switching off this and that, which had an eerily familiar feeling about it. A bunch of cutesy cartoon characters, the message delivered by a song. I felt I was watching 'Dumb Ways to Die' all over again, but without the idea.
Dumb ways.pngAnd therein lies a problem with much of the advertising output we see in Hong Kong these days. People seem to confuse execution with idea. "Our idea is that everyone is wearing afro-wigs" or "Our idea is that the copy is delivered with animated people".

And I think that's the case here. Someone looked at Dumb Ways to Die and thought "Hm, that's really cool, let's just do something like that". Completely failing to understand why DWTD was executed in the way it was, in that showing real people being blown up or eaten by sharks may not have been the way to go.

Little Swan copy.jpgHong Kong Ballet copy.jpgAs I've said before, we've all had experiences when a seemingly brilliant original idea turns out to be not quite so original, we can't possibly see every execution out there in the advertising universe, but DWTD was pretty celebrated across the creative planet. It's not the first time we've seen executions that are 'uncannily similar' to the campaign. I'd just like to know who did it, and why?

Of course, that example might well be filed under 'heavily influenced by', whereas the recent Little Swan brand execution recently seen in China, which bears an 'uncanny resemblance' to the very nicely executed Hong Kong Ballet campaign from 2018 by Design Army, might be filed under 'very very very heavily influenced by'.

Wishing you a happy healthy and fortunate year ahead.

Chris Kyme is Co-founder and Creative Director at Kymechow, Hong Kong


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1 Comments

m said:

I thought the "can you give us a dumb ways to die?" meetings were over, but two weeks ago I was in a meeting with a very large bank in HK and it came up again. The client started talking about this great campaign out of Australia some years back that some of us may have seen. I cringed as the words came out: "could we have something similar"

And by the way, what is it with the afro wigs? How many Chinese people in HK actually have afros? In my experience, the answer is one. It's a chap that works i one of the adidas stores in Mong Kok sneaker street. Go check him out. It's quite incredible.

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