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AD WATCH: A Wavemaker strategy director’s most/least favourite ads

AD WATCH features marketing industry figures providing their opinions on what they think is some of the most inspiring and disappointing work they’ve seen. As long as it’s not their own!

On this edition:

Scotty Ho

Strategy director

Wavemaker Hong Kong

HOT: KFC: The Hottest Colonel Ever – ‘Virtual Influencer’ ✰✰✰✰

KFC created a social stunt launching its own virtual influencer, Colonel Sanders, the first-ever computer-generated brand ambassador among global fast-food giants. The hot Colonel had a two-week Instagram Takeover, showcasing an Insta-famous daily life KFC intended as a parody of the social influencer culture.

Bringing a popular fast-food mascot to life was novel and entertaining. Eye candy with a hipster outlook, a recipe tattoo on chiselled abs, the virtual Colonel takes his followers on an envy-inducing journey via his Instagram posts and stories with brags about a virtual model girlfriend and shots of his high-flying lifestyle on his private jet.


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Having an ice-cold @DrPepper #ad while I gaze pensively out the window with a fresh perspective on the world. Always take time to be quiet and reflect, especially when you can get a new perspective on the world. It’s a big part of the #secretrecipeforsuccess. It’s so important to take the time to get a new perspective. Like when you’re super high in the air and the earth looks real small. #secretrecipeforsuccess #drpepper #imapepper #privatejet #reflecting #grateful #grateful365 #humbled #friedchicken #friedchickentattoo #advice #success #entrepreneur #behindthecurtain #keys #respect #inspiration #positive #positivethoughts #artistatwork #reflectiongram #blessed #travel #virtualcolonel

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KFC did well by taking on the virtual influencer trend, backed by good storytelling and real paid partnerships with Dr. Pepper, Old Spice, TurboTax, and Casper, to lightly mock brand sponsorships. The campaign drove new brand images, new fans, and created positive consumer relationships, ticking all the big social media checkboxes. I actually started to follow KFC’s Instagram page after the Colonel’s landing, and am secretly hoping we get to see more of him again!


It’s a story that celebrates acceptance and overcoming our differences. A timely message delivered at a divisive time for many people in the UK. It may not set the world alight like previous efforts, but I’m sure #ExcitableEdgar will still prove to be another huge hit for John Lewis.

NOT: Dove cash coupon sequential voice ad in JOOX ✰

There are many streaming sites used for music discovery and promotion that brands tap on to amplify their services. These popular platforms can provide intriguing and engaging content. However, a demonstration I watched at a seminar where a representative from JOOX presented an example sequential voice ad for potential promotion offers has turned me off this format completely, as I’ll recreate now.

Listening to my favourite playlist – *“Dove gives you $5 cash coupon while you shop in …”* – my music returns – “A reminder to you that Dove gives you $5 cash coupon …” – my playlist is back – “Last chance for you to take this $5 cash coupon …” – I hit stop.

Bombarding users with repetitive content might be a quick and easy trick for brands, but if done incorrectly in the wrong context, it will leave users with a bad user experience, impression, and literally turned off. I was considering taking up a paid subscription just to avoid these annoying ads.

Brands must be smart in positioning their ad content and messaging, and where possible, take creative spins so they can captivate their intended audience in the right time and place.

This article was produced for the February 2020 issue of Marketing Magazine Hong Kong. For more features and other magazine-exclusive content from this and upcoming issues, you can subscribe to receive your free monthly print copy here or you can read the digital version in its entirety here.