Walking advertisements have a long history in Hong Kong with people wearing sandwich boards, costumes or uniforms to promote everything from furniture stores to mobile phones and hotpot dinners. But soon we will witness the next generation of human advertisers when Irish company Adwalker launches its 'out of home, mobile, interactive media platform' on our streets. Adwalkers will appear in the central business district, bars and shopping malls in January wearing large jackets - or 'body packs' - fitted with 12-inch LCD screens on the front broadcasting commercials or for interaction with consumers, such as inviting them to take part in a quiz or a survey. 'Wherever there is a consumer, there is business opportunity,' said Andrew Cawte, chief executive of Adwalker Asia Pacific. 'Marketing has to be far more focused than in the past and in a very engaged manner. It needs to be close to the consumers and interactive with them.' The jacket weighs about five kilograms and has a small computer built into the back to provide remote updates and new content. This remote link also allows touchpad or keyboard input by consumers to respond to surveys, take advantage of ticketing services and pay for goods by credit card. Each jacket comes with a battery power pack to enable it to run for five hours before recharging. Beermaker Coors has used Adwalker to conduct person-to-person promotions in bars in Ireland and England - customers were invited to take part in an on-screen quiz in which they could win coupons, printed out on the spot, for free drinks. Other clients have included the Irish government, which used the medium for referendum education, British Airways and Eircom Broadband for marketing and collecting customer data. The Dublin-based firm listed on London's Ofex in April to fund overseas expansion. After landing in Hong Kong in January, it plans to move into the mainland and hopes to be in Japan, Korea and Singapore by the end of next year and India and Australia in 2006. Each market will hire eight or nine people to look after sales as well as technical, creative and customer service support, while sub-contracting the street operations to promotional firms. The company has gained a reputation for using only computer-wearing women as promoters. 'Girls are less threatening when approaching people,' explained Mr Cawte. lack of creativity Guests at the HK4As' Creative Awards later this month will get a sneak preview of the Adwalkers. Four of them will be in action at the event in a Repulse Bay garden on November 26 broadcasting the advertising association's one-minute 'Make Some Noise' message. 'The party will be punctuated by noise,' said HK4As creative committee chairman Rob Sherlock at the judges' presentation last week. 'We are asking people to dress up and enjoy life and celebrate the best works in town.' However, there doesn't sound as if there will be much to celebrate, with the judges saying they were disappointed after viewing this year's 900 entries. 'Maybe it's due to the economy,' said Michael Prieve, executive creative director of FCB San Francisco. 'People are fearful to do something creative. It is not just Hong Kong but a global problem. I hope the situation will improve, for everyone's sake.' Meanwhile, HK4As is inviting bidders for a television audience measurement contract this month. Its media and research committee is chaired by Starcom managing director Mabel Leung. prime reading for moguls Unlike Standard Chartered, most companies seem to be hiring staff these days to take advantage of the economic recovery and expand their business. In media circles, some new magazines have been appearing on newsstands. Cathay Pacific started publishing a travel magazine, Holidays, based on its airline and package offerings; New Media Group has added another title, Fashion & Beauty Weekly Plus, to its leisure-focused portfolio, while Stanley Ho Hung-sun will extend his influence to the world of words. The mogul is to launch a monthly publication called Prime Magazine on November 25, with more than 200 pages targeting high-end readers. As we all know, the casino king only does business with fat profits, so it's no surprise that Prime has only about 30 staff, including just 10 in the editorial team, and costs $50.