The Hong Kong Tourist Board has faced heat after publishing a blind Covid campaign featuring former Australian rugby player Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins without a face mask.
Also known as “Honey Badger x Hong Kong,” the three-part video series featuring Cummins visiting tourist attractions and trying his hand at the martial art Wing Chun, was not listed on YouTube. However, they were uploaded last Friday and gained several hundred views each.
“Want to travel like a local? Get on the Ding Ding,” Cummins said in one of the videos as he sat aboard the tram without wearing a mask. A check by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE saw on Twitter that some netizens were wondering why Cummins wasn’t wearing a mask, and why is there a photo of Cummins eating at Tung Po Kitchen, which had previously been forced to close.
In the same video, Cummins was seen jumping off the tram at the Star Ferry before heading to Sham Shui Po, where he visited vinyl enthusiast Ah Paul, ordered a fan cheung from Hop Yik Tai and watched the electronics offered to Apliu Street as he described. the place as “where the locals go treasure hunting”.
However, the description under the videos claimed that the videos are for publicity and creative purposes only. “Please wear a mask and follow the latest regulations and guidelines issued by the Hong Kong SAR government,” it read.
Social listening company CARMA saw a total of 74% negative mentions on coverage related to this story across various media channels over the past day. Most Hong Kong-based netizens criticized the video’s intention to create a false image that Hong Kong is business as usual, when in reality the city is still restricted by a set of quarantine measures, according to CARMA Managing Director Charles Cheung.
“Several netizens pointed out that Nick Cummins was last in Hong Kong in January 2020, and therefore the video must have been filmed before the pandemic outbreak. On the other hand, foreign netizens seem to be focusing more on the human rights issues and the reason for Cummins’ decision to support the Hong Kong government,” Cheung added.
In a conversation with INTERACTIVE-MARKETING, an HKTB spokesperson said, “The social video series was launched by HKTB’s Sydney office on October 5th. The series was first produced in late January 2020 with the aim of promoting Hong Kong’s diverse experience, including the city’s world-class sporting events such as the Hong Kong Sevens, featuring a local Australian rugby athlete to better engage consumers in the source market, at a time when anti-pandemic measures were not yet in place in Hong Kong.”
“As the global pandemic developed, HKTB shelved the promotional video as public concerns about health and hygiene increased and travel restrictions began to take place in various destinations. As the government of the HKSAR recently announced the “0+3″ arrangement in September and as ahead of the Hong Kong Sevens (November 4-6), the HKTB’s Sydney office rolled out the video series with the aim of promoting Hong Kong Sevens. Kong as an international travel destination with a diverse offering of experiences, including our international sporting events.Thus, HKTB recently got celebrity clearance to launch the previously produced video series.Content and Presentations of the video series are designed for publicity and creative purposes only to give viewers a general overview of the excitement in the city and to showcase the general lifestyle. l from Hong Kong,” the spokesperson added.
The spokesperson also said that the HKTB included a disclaimer below the video player to remind viewers that the scenes and visuals in all promotional materials were made for publicity and creative purposes only. “For the avoidance of doubt, the disclaimer also reminds viewers to wear a mask and to comply with the latest official regulations and guidelines when in town,” the spokesperson added.
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