Is the Town Big Enough?

In the Hutong
Working off a sleepless night
1453 hrs

The Grouch just fired me a press release announcing the launch of Marketing Magazine, a Hong Kong publication aimed at, naturally, marketers.

Of course, there’s already a marketing magazine in Hong Kong – Media – and Hong Kong is also the home base of AdAge China. But the new kids from Marketing say that what makes their title different is that their publication is focused on Hong Kong, offering “mainly” Hong Kong voices.

Now, I wish the new guys well – we all know how much Media could use the competition – but I wonder how long the Hong Kong focus can last. As many newcomers find out pretty quickly, Hong Kong may look like a big city, but it’s really a small town. I wonder just how much money they will make selling ads to agencies in Hong Kong trying to outdo each other. I suspect they will go regional quite quickly despite protests to the contrary.

I hope they do, anyway.

Hong Kong doesn’t need another publication to reinforce its misguided self-importance and continuing insularity.

Hong Kong once was important, back when The Rock of Jardines was a remote outpost of capitalist spirit at the feet of a big commie dragon and Jimmy Clavell was writing novels glamorizing the colony even as he exposed its warts.

But the insularity that held Hong Kong together in the tough times during the last half of the 20th century is a malignant anachronism that continues to prevent the full globalization of the city in the most important aspect – the thinking of its people and leaders.

A Hong Kong marketing professional I know who has relocated to Beijing told a friend of mine earlier in November that she felt bad for her hometown. “It’s the only city in China whose prospects are in decline.”

How true.

Take heed, Marketing.


About David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.
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