written by: Hui Sze Tung

When the chief executive race is in full swing. John Tsang has maintained a lead in public opinion polls, despite the speculation that he is not Beijing’s preference. His high popularity, to a great extent, is attributed to the deliberate publicity strategy.

A Successful Campaign Always Starts with an Accurate Market Segmentation
Hong Kong citizens, as Tsang’s entire market, ccould be roughly classified into four types by political stances: pro-Beijing camp, moderate groups, pan-democracy camp and localist groups. Tsang identifies the moderate groups and the pan-democracy camp as his target market.

Psychographically, the targeted market is a group also known as practical idealists, who tend to make compromises necessary to realize high ideals. They are dissatisfied with current government, and averse to Beijing’s intervention in Hong Kong affairs. They desperately want a new-styled leader who is not handpicked by Beijing. With the practical idealists as supporters, Tsang finds his advantages over Carrie Lam.

Lam, labelled as “Leung Chun-ying 2.0” by critics, is believed to have Beijing’s blessings to run for chief executive. Tsang is apparently at a disadvantage, but he turns crisis into opportunities. Since his target market is a group of practical idealists, not being Beijing’s preference cause them to compromise and support Tsang. To further turn strangers into friends, Tsang positions himself as a companion of Hong Kong people and advocates a key message of “unity prevails”.

Advertising and Publicity should Effectively Transform a Product into Brand
Tsang’s publicity campaign adopts an emotional approach to communicate its big idea, “March on with Solidarity”, with an emphasis on customer engagement.

Tsang took a series of Q&A videos to respond to online commenters’ questions about his political policies and focus. The public reacted enthusiastically by providing many constructive policy recommendations. Building a bridge of communication, Tsang shows his willingness to listen to and learn from the public, which established his position as a companion.

A campaign called “March on with Tsang Chun-wah” was simultaneously launched on Tsang’s Facebook page. It included video interviews of Tsang’s student and old colleagues. The interviews used a soft approach to feature the details of Tsang’s daily life instead of politics, aiming at creating a sense of affection and connection.

One of the interewee, DJ Sammy Leung

Although the selection of chief executive is a high-involvement decision making, the public cannot involve in the actual election as the result is in the hands of a 1200-people voting team. To enhance customer engagement, Tsang launched a crowdfunding campaign. It is a vivid strategy to engage the relevant publics, in support of himself as a chief executive contender. The public experienced a sense of participation and solidarity. Once a person donates to a contender, no matter how much, he/she will want that contender to win at the end. He/she will also tend to persuade people around him to support the same contender. The sentiments resulted from the crowdfunding campaign consolidates public support and turns supporters into salespersons.

Tsang’s publicity campaign has successfully transformed himself into a companion of Hong Kong people, with a cautious planning process and strategic events. The campaign has also achieved its working objective, which is gaining high popularity for Tsang.