Why and how HKTB is underwriting a second reality-TV show with Kix

Aiming for the Southeast Asia market, the tourism authority has signed on to follow up 2016's 'Ultimate BROcation', but is reformulating the format of the show.

Publicity shot from the 'Ultimate BROcation'
Publicity shot from the 'Ultimate BROcation'

Hong Kong Tourism Board has tapped Celestial Tiger Entertainment for the production of a reality-TV show called Extreme End. The series will be a follow-up to The Ultimate BROcation, which showed on action paid channel Kix in late 2016.

The Ultimate BROcation, as the title suggests, was a testosterone fuelled high-action show in which four male celebrities from Southeast Asia took part in adventures in Hong Kong. Extreme End follows a similar recipe, but with somewhat different ingredients.

Casting is currently underway for four celebrities—one each from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines—before production begins in July. Andy Chang, senior vice president of advertising sales, marketing and original productions with Celestial Tiger, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the cast and hopefully the audience will be more gender-inclusive this time.

“Even though Kix is an action channel with the programming created with guys in mind, our audience is 53% male and 47% female for certain countries," Chang said. "The funny thing is people tend to stereotype. We do have women watching MMA (mixed martial arts) programmes and action movies.”

The new series, slated for release in the fourth quarter, will also be shorter, down from a five-part series of one-hour episodes to a four-episode series of 30-minute installments.

“We learnt a lot with Brocation, that with reality shows, first of all, the attention span is short," Chang said. "So for us, we want to keep it short and concise. Let’s make a point.”

What remains the same, however, is the focus on entertainment value. Without giving too much away, Chang said each episode of Extreme End will feature two contrasting sides of Hong Kong and the adventure of the celebrities and their travelling companions. According to HKTB, showcasing of Hong Kong’s diversity of authentic experiences is part of the global ‘Best of All, it’s in Hong Kong’ campaign launched in 2016.

Like The Ultimate BROcation, Chang insisted that Extreme End will not be a documentary about Hong Kong.

“We are not calling this 'fun opposite sides' of Hong Kong, it’s 'extreme'," Chang said. "We want to showcase action. It’s not going to be ‘let’s sit here at The Peninsula and have a cup of tea'. It’s not all male, but it’s still action.”

He is adamant that the show should be fronted by celebrities, “people you can recognise when you see them on TV”, rather than influencers.

In comparison to tourism commercials with postcard-perfect cinematography, Chang said the media value of shows like this lies in their impression on viewers. In the case of paid TV, he pointed out that the households that can afford the subscriptions in Southeast Asia are more likely to have disposable income to spend on travel. Kix is available in major Southeast Asian markets as well as Hong Kong.

“If HKTB were to run a commercial on TV, imagine how much that would cost them depending on the number of times the commercials run,” said Chang. “Don’t forget that we are paid TV, and the shows will be re-run several times.”

However, that does not mean that the production cost of such reality shows comes cheap either, especially with the private yacht parties and Lamborghinis showcased on The Ultimate BROcation. Drone maker DJI, travel booking platform HotelsCombined, Cathay Pacific and Harbour Grand Hotels were the main sponsors for the earlier show.

Meanwhile, HKTB’s figures reveal that the number of tourists from Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines, has consistently exceeded 3 million in the past two years. More specifically, total visitors from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines increased by 2.8%, from 2.386 million in 2016 to 2.453 million in 2017.

“Southeast Asia is a very competitive market, and we aim to sustain the growth trends through a year-round calendar of mega events, district promotions and the great outdoor offerings,” Raymond Chan, HKTB's regional director, Southeast Asia, said in a written reply. “Through localised campaigns with our trade and media partners in each market, we continue to promote the myriad of authentic Hong Kong experiences that appeal to the unique demands of each country and sector.”

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