A Rolls by any other name brings sweet success

HONG KONG DAYS

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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross. Argyll, has remained derelict for more than 25 years
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game