From social media to a roving sculpture exhibition, Hong Kong’s popular John Tsang spent big on election advertising

He blew HK$203,500 on three sculptures of his campaign motto which moved around the city as a roving exhibition

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 April, 2017, 10:59pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 April, 2017, 11:05pm

Hong Kong’s failed but popular chief executive contender John Tsang Chun-wah spent more than HK$5.5 million on advertisements during his election campaign with much of that going towards his website and social media efforts.

His lavish spending stood in sharp contrast with the election winner, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who spent HK$3.65 million on advertisements. Lam instead focused her spending on her 80-person campaign team, which cost 80 per cent more than Tsang’s, electoral office records released Thursday showed.

Out of the HK$2.3 million spent on his website and social media, Tsang’s team paid HK$940,000 in three separate payments to communications company Secret Tour for social media campaigning services. The details of the services were not disclosed, but Tsang’s Facebook page did manage to attract 300,000 likes by the end of his electioneering.

Hong Kong chief executive candidate John Tsang had secret supporter who lent him HK$3m

About HK$1 million was spent on Tsang’s video productions, which included 16 short films featuring key supporters, such as his wife, son, actress Flora Chan and film director Johnnie To.

Tsang spent a further HK$728,880 on advertisements in the MTR and near the Star Ferry car park, HK$203,500 on three sculptures of his campaign motto which moved around the city as a roving exhibition, and another HK$205,500 on gashapon machines.

Finally, Tsang’s bus tour and rally at Edinburgh Square, held on March 24, just two days before the election, came with a price tag of HK$217,215.

But when it came to campaign personnel, Tsang spent far less than his election rival. His right-hand man, Julian Law Wing-chung, for example, worked as a volunteer.

In total, Tsang’s raised HK$15.3 million for his election campaign, spent HK$10.17 million and donated the remaining HK$5.16 million to charities.

Hong Kong’s next leader Carrie Lam spent HK$2m in wages for election campaign team

With 365 votes out of 1,194- member Election Committee, Tsang lost in the election but won in all major popularity polls.

In the last stage of the electioneering, Tsang’s popularity was over 50 per cent, according to numerous polls, dwarfing Lam’s 30 per cent.

“The strategy of Tsang’s campaign team is to appeal to the public, while I cannot see the direction of Lam’s strategy from her expenses,” political scientist Ma Ngok, from Chinese University, said. He added that Lam – with Beijing’s backing – only needed to focus on securing support from the election committee members.