Joseph Wong

Joseph Wong

5 Untold Truths about Copywriting in Hong Kong

25 Oct, 2020, 10:58 am

It’s no secret; Hong Kong is a melting pot of cultures.

With much British influence still in the city today, it’s safe to say Hong Kong is still a melting pot of cultures. And this transcends into all advertising and communications in the city. Specifically, the depth and breadth of the English language is like no other in the world. Here are the five lessons I’ve learned as a copywriter in this very dynamic city writing for many agencies and brands.

1. “Good copy” is VERY subjective.

Especially in Hong Kong, good copy is subjective because of the people and brands we deal with. I have many copywriters who have their arms up in the air when the client thinks their copy “isn’t good enough”. I’ve been brought in a number of times on teams to help agencies solve this age-old Hong Kong client and agency problem – a good copywriter will eventually write something that the client will like. It’s important to find the delicate balance between the client’s needs and your expertise.

2. Is it British, American or (gasp) Chinglish?

The melting pot means we have brands from all over the world, and this means they usually follow the English language conventions from their home country. This usually means either British or American English, and a skilled copywriter needs to remember to switch between the two when writing for multiple brands at the same time.

3. Learn the face behind the brand.

Sure, you’ve got the brand book pdf in hand – but the real keys to success are with the client you are dealing with. Everyone has a different interpretation of the brand, and in practice it’s up to the copywriter to learn what the brand means to their client. This approach works much better in getting copy approved fast. Whether you are dealing with a native Westerner, an overseas-born Chinese, an overseas educated Asian or a local Hong Kongers, copywriters need to know who they’re dealing with to tailor your writing approach.

4. “Best practice” in the US is not best practice here.

I’ve heard this many times from my agency clients: “The client wants EVERYTHING on the Facebook post, it’s too long and not best practice!”. This thinking isn’t wrong and is definitely the way to go in markets like Canada, the US and Australia. But in Asia, I truly believe consumers (in some cases) are willing to read longer form content (just look at how long the WeChat articles are). I’ve run many campaigns myself where below-the-fold content has actually performed very well. That being said, if given the choice between short and long – I still advise clients to choose shorter copy on social media. A good copywriter will write copy that converts, no matter what the length.

5. Revisions are a way of life.

It’s not you, copy revisions are a way of life in Hong Kong. From the Marketing Assistant to the CEO, everyone wants their two cents reflected in the copy. This trend probably won’t go away anytime soon and even the best copywriters are subject to an insane amount of revisions. When you’ve revised a Facebook post over 6 times, you can do ANYTHING. 😉

If you’ve got any questions or want to collaborate on projects, email me at and I’d be happy to respond! Otherwise feel free to have a look around my website.

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