Hong Kong’s Fire Services mascot Anyone offers lessons beyond safety and first aid
- The character stands out for its simplicity and effectiveness in delivering a serious message through catchy tunes and a creative script
- Hong Kong advertisers could learn from the creator of Anyone to step away from the formulaic
Clad in a blue bodysuit with its face covered and wearing only a pair of black shorts, Anyone is the new mascot of the Hong Kong Fire Services Department.
The character recently became the talk of the town after it featured in a video that the Hong Kong Fire Services Department posted to its Facebook page, promoting the proper way to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) (“Beloved mascot here to stay, fire service says, despite rumours of a ban”, November 7).
Despite the extreme simplicity of the character from a design perspective, Anyone became a viral sensation in just a single afternoon. Hong Kong social media users were bombarded with Anyone posts hours after the video was launched. What made Anyone so popular? Why did this mascot succeed where others have failed?
The answer is courage – daring to be different, to think out of the box and to take risks.
Looking back on the history of advertising in Hong Kong, most local advertisements have been rather straightforward. Frankly, they are really dull and boring.
Hong Kong advertisements seem to follow some formula or other. Take the ads for massage chairs, for example. A typical ad has a celebrity using it, then telling the audience how good the chair is, and then the ad ends. Most ads for over-the-counter medicines have similar plots: they open with someone being sick, then a person shows up with the medicine or mentions the medicine, then all the benefits of the medicine pop up in graphic form, and finally the ad ends with the brand filling the screen. At this point, I bet some viewers are already snoring. Generally, our ads rarely surprise us, tending to favour repetitive content.
That’s why Anyone is different.
Anyone’s appearance is monotonous, but in a striking way, since no other designer has dared to launch such a plain design. The Facebook video features a catchy song-and-dance routine. The video is plotted in a comical style – a delivery boy from a cha chaan teng faints on his way to deliver an order, then Anyone arrives and ultimately saves him by performing CPR and using an AED. By using amusing songs, dance and a funny script to deliver a serious message on first aid, the Fire Services Department got its message across.
Anyone should inspire advertisers in Hong Kong that they can veer off the set script. Sometimes, a more relaxed and humorous approach can be more effective. Advertising producers in Hong Kong still have a lot to learn.
Tsoi Ka-wong, To Kwa Wan