Matthew Miller
Nov 26, 2019

HK protest group urges ad industry to strike for five days

Hong Kong Strike group calls on the advertising industry to protest the government by stopping work throughout next week.

Strike-call images distributed via social media
Strike-call images distributed via social media

A protest group calling itself Hong Kong Strike is urging the advertising industry and "related practitioners" in Hong Kong to go on strike for five days beginning on December 2.

The work stoppage would become the latest in a series of coordinated actions that protest groups have used to express displeasure at the government over recent months. The group issued the call through Facebook and Instagram presences, as well as the Telegram app, which has been a key organising tool for protesters.

In its posts, the group claims to have conducted a survey in which 96% of 960 respondents said they support the strike, while 89% promise to participate. The posts also refer to a planned rally in Hong Kong's Central district at noon on December 2.

"December 2, advertising industries, on strike for five days," read the headlines on images attached to the posts. They also refer to solidarity with protesters standing opposed to the "regime".

Campaign Asia-Pacific has reached out to the Hong Kong Strike group through some of the contact mechanisms listed on its posts, but has not yet received a reply.

The call was first issued yesterday, and it's unclear at this point how much of an impact it's making across the industry.

A creative director at a multinational agency told Campaign Asia-Pacific this morning that the strike is "definitely being talked about in amongst the teams" but that it's not clear how many people might be planning to join just yet. An agency head, however, said Campaign's email asking for comment about the proposed strike was the first they had heard of it.

Like most companies in Hong Kong, advertising and communications agencies have attempted to be supportive of staff over the last few months while also maintaining official neutrality about the ongoing protests.

Onie Chu, executive director of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies of Hong Kong (HK4As), confirmed she started receiving word of the call-to-action yesterday.

"I can’t speak on behalf of independent agencies, nor can I represent all the 4As agencies, as we have yet to collect any formal responses from them," she told Campaign Asia-Pacific this morning. "However, as we respect individuals’ rights, my guess is that most of our member agencies will treat it as individual behaviour and handle it against their own sets of HR measures."

Another agency leader indicated his company would respond to this issue in the manner that has become 'business as usual' over recent months.

"Our agency has taken a very liberal stance in allowing our staff unlimited discretion to work from home to steer clear of transportation challenges, and take leave to participate in activities where they want their voices to be heard," this agency head said. "Our only requirement is that they behave lawfully at all times, and represent our company with professionalism."

The agency puts clients first, this agency head added, so it will not officially support the strike. "But our policy still stands, and our colleagues may apply it as they see fit."


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