Hong Kong cash publicity stunt is just a poor show
- Throwing and handing out banknotes in the city’s poorest district created a mad scramble, and was a cheap and socially disruptive shot linked to a cryptocurrency company
Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong’s poorest district, is not a place where one would expect dreams to come true. But when HK$100 banknotes rain from a rooftop and HK$500 notes are handed out on a street corner, there is a perception that Christmas has come early.
Not surprisingly, the largesse on both days of the weekend, apparently without strings attached, led to a frenzied scramble that required police intervention to restore calm. There is every sign that it was a promotional stunt; the man arrested for causing disorder in a public place is involved with a cryptocurrency company and had been live streaming the events on social media.
The man, 24, claims to have made a fortune from bitcoin and is popularly known in the circles he moves in as “Young Coin Master”. His orange Lamborghini sports car, which he got out of before distributing money, has his company’s name emblazoned on the side.
How much cash was involved has not been revealed, but even so, the widespread media attention the stunt received would have cost a small fortune to replicate in advertising. The wily would contend the wads of notes were a small price to pay for publicity on such a scale.
But the commotion created in the name of self-promotion at the expense of public order cannot be condoned. Kind-hearted Christmas spirit does not require stunts and social media videos and postings; there are ample numbers of charities in our city and ways to donate without causing mayhem.
There are also many responsible ways to use social media platforms to generate attention. Throwing money at the wind, literally, is a cheap and socially disruptive shot.
Cryptocurrencies are a high-risk investment that have received bad publicity of late due to a sharp fall in value. Their volatility is a magnet for speculators, but in tough times, any product that is linked to unpredictability is a hard sell.
Attaching them to easy money, as the man’s video showing banknotes cascading down the side of a building did, is irresponsible.
Some governments, like that in mainland China, have banned trading in them and others, such as Hong Kong’s, are looking into tighter controls. Unthinkingly causing a public disturbance to promote them is not good publicity.