Staff Reporters
Mar 29, 2022

Hong Kong adspend dove with skyrocketing Omicron cases

Widespread declines hit all media in February 2022, with major advertisers such as HSBC leading the cuts, according to a report from Admango.

Hong Kongers waiting in a Covid testing line (Shutterstock)
Hong Kongers waiting in a Covid testing line (Shutterstock)

The fifth wave of Covid that tore through Hong Kong in the first quarter of 2022 had a significant impact on adspend in the market. As Omicron cases spiked in the region, advertisers who had increased their spend for successive months in the second half of 2021 ended pared their spending by 10% in February, according to data from Admango, an adspend tracker. 

Data from the firm show a 15% increase in spending in January, followed by a broad-based cut as consumers and businesses felt the full impact of the latest wave of cases. Across different media formats, the reduction was visible in February. For example, TV saw a 5% decline, mobile was down 4% and social media was down 11%.

As they faced a market that was effectively locked down and using more aggressive testing measures, top advertisers cut their spend. For instance, HSBC Group decreased its adspend by 24% during the period. According to Admango's data, the toiletries and household category recorded a 5% decrease in adspend, as products like tooth and oral products (-49%), shampoo and conditioner (-35%) and detergent and cleaning products (-35%) all recorded declines.

Despite this gloom, some advertisers increased their spending. For example, advertisers in pharmaceuticals and healthcare increased their spend 5%, and financial-services advertisers also upped their investments, led by Promise Finance with a 49% spike. Reckitt Benckiser increased its budget by 83% YOY, with its Dettol brand going up by 59%.

Admango contends that much of the adspend could be deferred rather than cancelled entirely. The firm points to a similar decline in the fourth wave, which ended in February 2021. As cases abated, adspend returned a month later, with 33 industries recording month-on-month increases in March 2021. This resulted in a 30% adspend jump in Q3 2021, the company reported. 

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