written by: Lai Yuet Chi, Vanesse

Since John Tsang formally announced his decision to run for Hong Kong Chief Executive (CE) on January 19, many key opinion leaders gave positive feedback for his public relations campaign which demonstrated his emphasis on “local sentiment consciousness”. Not only did he accept ‘Uncle Pringles’ as his nick name, he even used ‘Good Show’ which has a similar pronunciation of ‘whisker’ in Cantonese, as his campaign’s name. His campaign’s logo and phone case design are similar to Pringles’ logo, which are designed by local companies. His declaration of candidacy pointed out the importance of unity through using ‘we can’ instead of ‘I can’, starting with his personal stories and emotional attachment with ‘Hong Kong’.

If ‘John Tsang’ is a brand, then this brand is positioned as a local Hong Kong brand, targeting to the young generation. According to the four-stage approach of branding strategy (Almquist and Dor-Ner, 2012) [1] , the choices of word, logo, videos and field visits in his campaign are the “core brand elements” to demonstrate the brand’s meaning, the beauty of being a local sentiment conscious leader. Until February 5, John Tsang’s Facebook page earned 174,003 likes, while Carrie Lam doesn’t even have a Facebook page. For those who are strongly local conscious and support the collective identity of ‘Hongkonger’ may tend to support John Tsang because of his branding strategy.

Surprisingly, when comparing the individual media coverage (Print and digital platform, excluding social media) in Hong Kong between Carrie Lam and John Tsang from January 16 [2] and February 5, the total media coverage earned by John Tsang is around 48% of Carrie Lam. The daily average of earned media coverage is 58 for Carrie Lam and 27.6 for John Tsang [3].

As illustrated in Figure 2, Carrie Lam continuously earned more coverage than John Tsang; both on the day John Tsang announces his run for CE (January 16) and on the day he announces his crowdfunding campaign (February 3) .

Admittedly, there could be many other external factors leading to this phenomenon. However, on the face of it, at least one facet of Carrie Lam’s public relations campaign may not be totally worse off than that of John Tsang. Within the period stated, John Tsang visited many local start-ups and local stores selling made-in HK goods, universities and public estates. He even kick starts his crowdfunding campaign which raised more than three Million dollars from 8000 donors on FringeBacker, a crowdfunding platform founded by Hongkongers.

John Tsang has made conscientious effort to show how much he supports local economy and youth initiatives through digital media and physical events. However, when refers to the statistics, it is intriguing to see how he is not at the top of Hong Kong’s media agenda.

No doubt John Tsang as a CE candidate is occupying the top of mind position of his supporters and many Hong Kong people. His social media strategy and Facebook campaigns are highly commendable in filtering the appropriate news feed and shaping consumers’ sentiments and responses. The pro-John Tsang news feed will frequently show up on the Facebook of his supporters and followers. So, even when there is considerably less traditional media coverage, it still feels like he commands a lot of positive exposure. No matter John Tsang’s campaign is on Hong Kong’s media agenda or not, it is certainly on his fans Facebook agenda.

[1]: Almquist, E., & Dor-Ner, T. D. (2012). Brand strategy that shifts demand: Less buzz, more economics. Boston: Bain & Company. Retrieved from http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/brand-strategy-that-shifts-demand.aspx
[2]: Announcement to run for Chief Executive: Carrie Lam – 16 January 2017; John Tsang -19 January 2017 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong_Chief_Executive_election,_2017#Nominees
[3] All coverage data is calculated by writer using the data from WiseNews