Creative selling enriches market

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 October, 2004, 12:00am

HK businesses are broadening their spectrum of promotions, from property to everyday products

HONG KONG'S ABILITY to keep pushing creativity to new levels is demonstrated every year in the entries received for the HKMA/TVB Award for Marketing Excellence.

In its 19th year, the award continues to serve as a forum for companies to compete and learn from each other in a collective effort to keep raising marketing standards.

The award is organised by the Hong Kong Management Association and sponsored by Television Broadcasts (TVB).

Cheong Shin-keong, TVB's general manager for broadcasting, said that as chairman of the award's organising committee, a post he has held for several years, he had seen plenty of imagination going into the city's many marketing campaigns.

'The creativity in marketing is rising, and Hong Kong companies are some of the world's best,' Mr Cheong said.

'Every year I see at least 10 entries for the award that are just very good, and it is a tough task as a judge to have to select six winners out of them.'

More than 30 entries were received this year, six of which won gold, silver and bronze prizes, and three certificates of merit. This year there were also two citations for entries that showed exceptional effort.

The fact that three of the winning entries happened to be property developers was coincidence, Mr Cheong said, adding that all three won on individual merit. They were YoHo Town by Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency (gold award), The Orchards by Swire Properties (silver), and Regalia Bay by Regal Estate Agents (certificate of merit).

He said Regalia Bay, an exclusive development in Stanley, was marketed in an unusual way for a top-end property.

With a small property development in a high price range, the sales team usually targets a short list of clients, but Regalia launched a two-in-one campaign that aimed at both targeted clients and the public at large with a media blitz, he said.

'On television you have millions of viewers, but only a few can afford the product. What the TV campaign achieved in this case was to drive up the product's value,' he said.

The Regalia campaign was a collaboration with TVB, and featured a number of celebrities to boost the image of the property development.

The Orchards, developed by Swire Properties, won a silver for its 'Swire Homes' Distinctive New Living - The Orchards' campaign.

'This campaign went against the traditional way properties are sold,' Mr Cheong said. 'There was no exaggerated campaign on television, just a booklet. You had to make an appointment to visit, and when you arrived there was no crowd. The method was very exclusive, and it made a buyer feel like an important person.'

What was more important, he added, was that all the apartments sold at excellent prices.

But it was a campaign that focused on a long-term vision that impressed the judges the most. The gold winner, YoHo Town, was presented in a campaign that looked 10 years ahead, Mr Cheong said.

'It was very special for a property development to market itself this way, and the judges saw that the campaign was successful both in the long term and in the short term,' he said.

The YoHo Town campaign aimed to re-brand the very district in which it is set - Yuen Long - and not merely focus on the property alone.

Perceived generally as an ageing, out-of-the-way district, Yuen Long was re-branded by YoHo Town 'as the next best place for the young and hip'. In the short term, Yoho Town has also sold all its units.

But a sale is not the end of the story.

'There are many layers to creativity in marketing,' Mr Cheong said. 'It's about product design as well as service. When you sell a house, it's not just the house you are selling but also the after-sales service. If there is a mall attached to the property, you may want to get certain types of shops in to suit the kind of residents living in your development.

'Judging from all the entries this year, I can see that companies have regained confidence in the market and are looking at the long term again.'

Eeveryone is talking about 3G telecommunications, thanks to Hutchison Telecommunications (HK), another certificate of merit winner.

'The company's video telephone was very new, and it was a matter of making people want it,' Mr Cheong said. 'The campaign was very comprehensive.'

The award recognised institutions and newcomers alike, and each had different challenges to face. In the case of fast-food chain Fairwood, another merit winner, it was a case of a facelift.

'Fairwood has been around for very long time, and is facing an increasingly competitive market. Its image was very outdated and it was difficult to turn that around. But even under such circumstances, it has been able to increase its sales figures and project a much younger image. It has made new space for itself in the market by taking something as simple as baked rice with pork and coffee and giving it a twist, or by efficiently marketing its products such as curry cooked with 24 spices,' Mr Cheong said.

Bronze prize winner Ossia Marketing (HK) discovered a winner in a trade magazine - painless high-heels invented by a German researcher in the United States - and promptly approached the inventor for the right to market the shoes in Hong Kong.

'The product had not even been marketed in the US,' Mr Cheong said. 'Hong Kong was the first place in the world to launch it. The high-heels are designed to redistribute the pressure on the feet with less pain and more comfort.

'Marketers from other places were asking if they could get permission to use the same idea. This has shown to the world Hong Kong people's efficiency and creativity.'

The panel of adjudicators changes each year and includes respected professionals from different fields, such as market research. Last year saw a number of academics on the panel, but this year the judges were managing directors, company heads and a government official.