Hong Kong’s media industry is grappling with the impact of the on-going protests, as brands delay promotional activities and rein in spending amid continued uncertainty.
Industry watchers told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the ongoing slump in ad spending and consumer confidence was among the worst witnessed in the past decade. While the first half of the year was relatively stable, the past five or six months have seen a noticeable deterioration.
"Cosmetics and skincare, toiletries and household and entertainment led the decline in ad spends," said Jennifer Ma, Director of Sales and Marketing at Admango, a tracker of this kind of data.
Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB)’s recent move to lay off 350 people – 10% of its total workforce – is symptomatic of wider troubles for the media industry. Another casualty of the current unrest in Hong Kong that has forced businesses to rein in costs because of decreased customer spending and lower tourist arrivals.
In a note sent to staff on Monday, TVB group chief executive Mark Lee Po On said it is difficult to forecast when social order and the economy will regain their footing. Given the uncertainties, he added that companies must take appropriate measures to ensure their survival.
"Recession is a foregone conclusion," Lee added. "No business sector including advertising, television, newspaper and other media will be spared."
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s protest movement has shifted towards monetary-led tactics, such as boycotting shops, restaurants, and other establishments deemed to be pro-government or pro-police.
Since June, several online guides identifying “yellow” — pro-democracy — and “blue” — pro-government— have sprung. Restaurants and shops around the city have begun posting yellow stickers of approval, akin to a Michelin Guide for those who support the protests.
Some of brands boycotted by protesters include Maxim's, Pizza Hut Delivery, Hang Seng Bank, HSBC, Bank of East Asia and UnionPay.
In an interview with The Epoch Times, the creator of one such guide considered it an effective way to pressure the government, even though it’s unclear whether the authorities will ultimately listen. “The government needs people to spend money…and I have the ultimate freedom to choose,” he said. “We try different ways in the existing system, although it is corrupt…this is a good way to at least try.”
Other netizens have also created special campaigns to encourage more people to patronize yellow shops. One such organizer told The Epoch Times via Telegram that the efforts were intended to the Hong Kong government’s narrative that protesters on the streets are ruining Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.
“This ‘yellow economic cycle’ idea is to tell the government and blue shops, that the economic losses are not due to protests—it is a form of economic sanction due to their political stance,” she said.
Sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific, The Epoch Times