Lessons to learn from the Teletubbies saga

May 25, 2022 10:45
Photo: RTHK/Photos circulating online

If content is fire, social media is gasoline. That is what happens with the Teletubbies incident that got half of Hong Kong people talking about since Monday.

It is not a happy ending, but still, the listed toy company involved avoided a public relations crisis and the loving father got back his money, as netizens demanded.

But the incident will go down as a textbook case on how to handle a damage by kids in public and of course the importance of how to put out the fire at once on social media.

Last night a Mong Kok KKplus toyshop, a unit of the listed Kidsland International, apologized and refunded HK$33,600 to Mr Cheng, father of the five-year boy who accidentally knocked over a HK$52,800 Teletubbies figure on Sunday, after Mrs Cheng uploaded the bill in a social forum that spurred an uproar on the internet.

Most people questioned why the shop had charged Mr Cheng such an incredibly high rate for such a fragile 1.8 meter-tall figure that it has the sole responsibility to keep safe.

A secondary issue is how much the father wants to protect his kid from the shock and embarrassment which caused him to pay quickly without too many questions about the cost and the responsibility issue, and more importantly, if the kid in fact damaged the figure because as the video showed, he “leaned against” and did not “push” the figure.

Underage kids out of the arms of their loving parents might cause unpredictable incidents but more often than not, they might be spared from the financial responsibilities of the damage caused.

I can recall a similar accident in the Christie’s Spring Auction in 2019 when a kid was reported to have torn off part of a painting by Qing Dynasty painter Ren Bonian’, estimated to be worth HK$2.5 million. At the end, the sale of that painting was off and no claim was reported because I reckon it was insured.

Another lesson is to handle a crisis like putting off a fire. Readers may recall a popular story about Audi’s new advertisement in China featuring Andy Lau, which was in fact plagiarized from an earlier video by Chinese vlogger Beida Mange.

Audi and its advertising agency had no choice but immediately apologised for the error and actively sought remedies. The incident seemed to have died down but it would go down as a classic case not only for plagiarism in China but also how quickly a company responded to avoid an unmanageable crisis.

Same for Kidsland, whose shares, ironically, surged 80 per cent yesterday before settling with a 17 per cent gain.

-- Contact us at [email protected]


EJ Insight writer