Interesting ways to sell things

Today’s South China Morning Post comes with a big stiff heavy thing inside it. It turns out to be a translucent envelope containing three booklets ‘H’, ‘M’ and ‘T’, in diminishing size…


When you open them, you find they are interlocking. The smaller one opens onto a picture of a guy next to a swimming pool. The medium-size also opens onto the same picture of the guy next to the swimming pool…


Also inside the booklets are various other pictures – arty black and white architectural shots, vacant-looking women, and a kid asleep with a furry white cat. No prizes for guessing where all this stuff ends up…


What did it cost to design and print? What was its purpose? What was it trying to sell? We will never know.

At least it doesn’t make you feel ill. At the other end of the marketing/design bad-taste spectrum comes this offer to subscribers of the SCMP Online – free access to a publication called the Edge Review. Of all the magazine’s many past covers, they choose the one that will make you recoil in horror…


What first looks like one of those shock-value pictures of a battered wife is in fact a Photoshopped image of ousted Thai Premier Yingluck Shinawatra. Presumably this is how the (apparently Malaysian) magazine doesn’t get censored by the Bangkok junta.

As it happens, anyone can see Edge Review free of charge here, if they like keeping up with a KL-biased view of the infantile squabbling that sometimes passes for intra-Southeast Asian affairs. Don’t all rush. (I think it’s Photoshopped – not sure what the generals are SCMP-PolRefPackagedoing with her right now.)

Over in the SCMP’s op-ed page, former Home Affairs Secretary Patrick Ho pens a refreshingly different sort of piece on Hong Kong’s political reform package. Rather than repeat the tired and dreary pro-reform arguments that are driving us up the wall, he criticizes officials and supporters for being so apologetic about it.

He dislikes the ‘Pocket it first’ slogan, the notion that the package is ‘the best we can do’ and the lame promise of a better deal in the future. All these imply that the proposal is somehow substandard, and this plays into the pro-democrats’ hands. Instead, he essentially says, campaigners for the package should be jumping up and down at how wonderful it is – the best possible arrangement to serve the interests of both Hong Kong and the nation.

It’s a bit late now, of course. The official communication strategy was doomed by the ham-fisted mouth-frothing psycho-act that Beijing officials put on for us last year. The superfluously restrictive conditions of the plan’s nomination process seemed to surprise even our own government leaders, leaving them scrambling for excuses. To pretend the proposal was brilliant and amazing and better than we could have imagined would have taken acting skills worthy of an Oscar – and still wouldn’t have sounded convincing. A reluctant, hand-wringing admission that the package is basically pretty crappy was probably the only credible way to go. But it’s an interesting point, Patrick. Thank you.


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8 Responses to Interesting ways to sell things

  1. Chris Maden says:

    Not to mention the environmental waste of all the glossy printing, from living tree to bin to sell over-priced tat to twats…

  2. PD says:

    What passes for political debate in our poor benighted region (please, oh please, it’s NOT a city) has now progressed, as you so stringently and acutely argue, has now passed to the fourth or third degree, as if it was some sort of refined, water-drip torture, which I suppose it is in a way.

    The thousand-year regime currently in Peking makes one of its infamous pronouncements; the Danzig-ish government paraphrases and comments it; the democrats tore its and their “logic” and “coherence” and “consistency” to shreds; and now St Patrick banishes the hissing serpents for evermore.

    Maggie’s comments on the village-pump nature of the government were much too kind. What we have here is not even of black hole quality: it’s negative matter or something, that instantly annihilates any intelligent life.

  3. Monkey Reborn says:

    “I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom.” – Noam Chomsky

    I ain’t a big Chomsky fan, but I found this quote an appropriate one considering the intellectual contortions and unconscious onanism shoved in our faces on a daily basis by HKG’s “leading” figures, who are doing an excellent impression of the political equivalent of Stepford Wives (mindlessly in sway to “Big Daddy CCP”).

    Although entertaining and somewhat amusing in an absurd, dark and very postmodern sense, I do yearn for an out-and-out fascist tycoon to emerge, who perhaps may redeem that sorry lot with a dose of honesty.

    “We don’t want democracy because it would jeopardise our price-fixing cartels and economic dominance”.

    “I will say whatever the CCP wants me to say, because I care more about my business interests in mainland China than I do about the little people in Hong Kong”.

    “I am rich, very rich dear Reader, and you are poor, very poor in comparison. This situation has come about because I am a superior and infallible being, and your are less valuable, just much less than me in every way. Therefore, my views are paramount, and if you fail to agree with them, it is either because you are incapable of understanding the deep and subtle complexities of my thinking processes, or because you are too young or inexperienced to know what is truly valuable in life, or because you have been corrupted by foreign thinking and no longer love our glorious Communist Party oops i mean country…”.

    p.s. a big lovely fuck you to the Kuok family for their unwanted involvement in our intellectual life in Hong Kong … never thought I would say this, but where is Rupert Murdoch when you need him.

  4. Stephen says:

    @ Monkey Reborn

    To which the fascist tycoon really does expect the little people (99%) to sing out in unison “we are too stupid to choose our leaders therefore we thank the heavens that we have the enlightened CCP and you, O’ Wise One, too guide us in our choice.” Which is a little bit like used to happen at Li Ka Shing AGM’s where the great man smiled and was eulogized as a simple local lad made good, gallantly making shovel loads of cash for the good of all Han-Kind !

    Trouble is it was all utter horse-shite and significant numbers of the population, having weaned themselves off, TVB, RTHK, Sing Tao etc, now know this. Now when they pronounce these inanities, like Patrick today, they come across as stupid.

    Fast forward 15 years and the Lam family are sitting down to dinner in Surrey. The neighbours have been invited round and the Matriarch is busy discussing the recent UK election of which she enthusiastically took part. The Neighbour asks the Matriarch who she used to vote for whilst in Hong Kong ? To which the Matriarch replies “O we are far too stupid to vote in Hong Kong because (insert inane reason here) …”

  5. Don’t worry, we’re constantly making improvements to our product. We’re enhancing our opinion section by dumping Philip Boring and Stephen Whines. Next to go: Jake van dee Krap and that dangerous subversive Harry. Meanwhile we’re creating lots of cosy jobs for refugees from state media, the Straits Times and failed TV stations. You’re welcome

  6. gweiloeye says:

    Hemmers, inside the backcover of each booklet should give you a hint. A lovely little red and white logo with an S, H and a K, and a website called which, hilariously, doesn’t even work. I’ll take a stab in the dark here and say Ultima is another atrocious, over priced stack of dog boxes, situated where else but in, you guessed it, Ho Man Tin – who’d have thunk it! Or is it just a spooky coincidence. Nah.

    At least the old ladies collecting this rubbish will get a couple of cents extra at the recyclers.

  7. Scotty Dotty says:

    @ Monkey Reborn

    Hong Kong’s leading figures as the Stepford Wives. Now you say it, yes, just that! And Alan Semen is the gardener, ever trying to ingratiate himself but they still treat him like shit.

    Excellent post.

    @ Stephen.

    “…gallantly making shovel loads of cash for the good of all Han-Kind !” That’s a good one, I must borrow that.

    @ Hemmers (Ed: that’s enough @)

    Thank you for today’s post!

  8. Chinese Netizen says:

    @ All: BRAVO! Good night and good luck.

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