27 February 2020
Robert Chow Yung can consider various freebies and incentives to ensure a decent turnout at the upcoming anti-Occupy Central rally in Hong Kong.
Robert Chow Yung can consider various freebies and incentives to ensure a decent turnout at the upcoming anti-Occupy Central rally in Hong Kong.

Bringing in the crowd: Some ideas for 8/17 rally organizers

What would it take to ensure a turnout of at least 100,000 in the planned anti-Occupy Central rally on Aug. 17?

Well, if Robert Chow Yung, the “minced ginger” that is organizing the march, were to ask me, I would offer him some simple advice — just announce that you will be giving away a few hundred dollars worth of food (or food coupons) to all those who show up!

Similar to the “pocket first” theory espoused in other cases, an “eat first” strategy is most workable to draw the crowd to Victoria Park.

A tab of HK$500 per head to reward the most loyal supporters in an outdoor showoff in the hottest month of the year will be just peanuts for the central government’s Liaison Office. 

Meanwhile, taking inspiration from a Mong Kok nightclub that is offering complementary fruit plate to customers who endorse the anti-Occupy Central petition, I’d like to propose some more creative incentives.

1. Free fish at McDonald’s: How can you run a city campaign without engaging the world’s largest fast-food chain that has over 230 outlets in Hong Kong? McDonald’s half price Big Mac coupon has not won customers back after the expired-meat scandal. Now, why not offer free Fish-O-Fillet redemption for loyal supporters of the restaurant as well as the anti-Occupy Central protesters? By doing so, McDonald’s can get out the message: chicken is guilty, but not fish.

2. Large-screen iPhone 6: Apple’s upcoming smartphone can serve as a powerful incentive to draw in crowds for the protest march. Organizers can promise rally participants that they will be entitled to phones procured from Beijing and Shanghai, claiming that the new handset will go on sale in the mainland first before Hong Kong. Quantity will be limited, so the gadgets will be offered to only those who line up at Victoria Park the night before Aug. 17.

3. Cash for mooncake: Instead of giving mooncake coupon, the Food Leftovers Inc and the Cake Box Recycling Association can pay cash to rally participants who return fatty mooncakes in September. The payout will depend on a person’s age. An 80-year-old man, for instance, can get HK$80 for returning a full mooncake box set.

Other gimmicks like offering sub-divided home-stay experience, online courses on creating patriotic websites, and free redemption of politically-correct local dailies can also reach the email boxes of DAB, FTU and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese Manufacturing Association. Anyone willing to sponsor, just put in your application.

So, where does all this leave the opposing camp and Jimmy Lai Chee-ying?

Lai could probably step up his funding for the pro-democracy camp. The tycoon should bear in mind that the HK$3.5 million he has purportedly donated to the democrats is just chump change in these times. The money will not buy even a second-hand flat in New Territories. Nor is it apparently sufficient for procuring a strong anti-virus program for Lai’s own computer.

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EJ Insight writer