A Rolls by any other name brings sweet success


Roaring into the centre of town the other day on my Honda Superhawk motorcycle, I realised that I was travelling behind a Rolls-Royce bearing a silver label stating that the car was called "Full Success".

There is nothing surprising about travelling behind a Rolls-Royce; Hong Kong has more of these cars, on a per capita basis, than anywhere. However the name, appearing where I expected to see "Silver Spirit", was unusual. The British car company seemed to be making a special accommodation for the Hong Kong market - where it is practically impossible to sell anything without suggesting that it will bring success and prestige to the prospective customer.

Checking with Spencer Lam, the general sales manager for Rolls-Royce, I discovered that the owner had indeed chosen the name. "You're so lucky to see that car", Mr Lam told me, "it's very special." Apparently Rolls- Royce customers are given whatever they ask for on their cars.

As Christmas time is the season of commerce in Hong Kong, barely sullied by religion, I freely offer this piece of intelligence to the Rolls- Royce marketing department. They should note that the lucky owner is definitely on to something which could help shift even more Rolls-Royces.

I know this because a friend of mine spent some time as an advertising copywriter and found himself putting together an advert for a luxurious German car. The manufacturers were very proud of its technological innovations and its many engineering triumphs and insisted that these featured prominently in the advertisement.

"You can't sell a car on this basis in Hong Kong", objected my friend. "Why? This is very successful in Germany," said his client. As the client is always right, an advertisement was duly produced highlighting the technological wonders of the new model, saying nothing about the immense prestige it would bestow on its owner. Sales immediately plummeted.

Hong Kong customers want to be told that if you spend a lot of money you will gain a lot of face, and they like to be reassured that the purchase will somehow put them at an advantage. One expensive brand of cognac is exclusively marketed in Hong Kong on story lines which show that the wily cognac drinker is always able to put one over on his hapless foreign business partner.

Most consumer products are sold on the basis of prestige. A brand of shirts promises executive success; a Japanese car offers the prospect of driving its purchaser to untold riches on the stock market; an apartment in a new block lets purchasers "tower" over their business rivals, and so on.

Hong Kong is often described as a money-mad, success-driven society. Like many generalisations, this one contains an element of fact. No wonder that makers of luxury goods make a beeline for the colony. At Christmas time sales of designer watches, up-market brandies and other quality products are remarkable.

The point about these goods is that they are bought because they are expensive. How else can an average wannabe tycoon show that he has already made it? Only the seriously rich can afford to relax; they have nothing to prove. Some are even seen wearing Japanese watches. Those wanting to join their ranks have to be given face by showing they are in the big league in terms of spending power.

As for me, I'm thinking of applying to Honda to see if they would agree to the renaming of my motorcycle as "Moderate Success", instead of "Superhawk". We all have to start somewhere.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little