25 October 2016
Snapshot of a video that TV Most made for a rumored Manulife project. Photo: YouTube
Snapshot of a video that TV Most made for a rumored Manulife project. Photo: YouTube

Flight of fancy over a spaceship video

The online world is a free-for-all when it comes to dissemination of crazy ideas and rumors.

This week some netizens displayed unusual creativity as they circulated rumors that Manulife Financial has invited some production houses to pitch for a one-minute video that will be screened at the firm’s annual dinner.

According to the Internet chatter, the financial services company wanted the video to contain the following elements:

1. A group of people in a jungle waiting to board a spaceship

2. The spaceship flying across the solar system past various planets

3. The people learn new skills in space; and upon their return, know how to sell more products

Not a bad idea, except that the company was said to be offering a budget of only HK$500 to HK$700 for production expenses.

We know creative ideas are priceless, but still we would doubt if there are any big corporates out there who’d dare to throw such an absurd challenge.

Manulife has denied the rumors, but it has not prevented people from indulging in a fresh round of online creativity to poke fun at the purported ridiculous offer.

Several netizens posted online competitions for official spaceship videos. TV Most, a TVB news clone from popular online portal 100 Most, included the spaceship news in its regular newscast.

Even the Environmental Bureau had some fun with it. Its icon Big Waster last night said he took a spacecraft into the universe and set a target to reduce energy consumption by 40 percent by 2025.

Some netizens responded that the government should perhaps consider canceling the Symphony of Lights, the nightly show at Victoria Harbour, now that fewer mainlanders would be visiting the city.

Meanwhile, is there a lesson for Carrie Lam in the spaceship challenge, as the chief secretary tries to win support from the pan-democratic camp for the Legco electoral reform vote and “Make it Happen” in two weeks’ time?

As for me, the spaceship video saga has reminded me of the experience of a photographer whom I have known for nearly 20 years.

Last year, my friend was asked to take photos of a dozen senior partners of an accounting firm for an annual publication.

He was being paid for a three-hour assignment, but at the last minute was asked if he could squeeze in pictures of the firm’s other partners also. 

As the company knew that each participant would on average take five to 10 minutes per session, it was trying to save some money by putting in a last-minute request and hoping that the photographer would oblige. 

Faced with an unrealistic proposition, here is what my friend told them: “Why don’t you consider going to Fotomax?”

This is just an example of the lengths that unscrupulous corporates can go to as they deal with outside creative professionals. 

Now, if anyone is wondering why the prospects of local creative industries have diminished, we know where to pin at least part of the blame.

[Cantonese only]

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EJ Insight writer

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