Hong Kong outdoor media firm backs ad promoting sharks fin in Chinese medicine

Hang Cheong Loong's ad featuring sharks fin products

Sharks fin ingredients in Hang Cheong Loong’s MTR ad

The outdoor advertising company managing poster sites on Hong Kong’s subway system has stated that it has no objections to running a campaign for a Chinese medicine brand that advertises the use of sharks fin.

The campaign for Hang Cheong Loong running on the MTR, pictured right at Sheung Wan station near the main areas where sharks fin is sold, promotes the increasingly taboo fish-part as an ingredient in its medicine.

JCDecaux, the outdoor ad firm that manages advertising for the MTR, said that it had no objections to the campaign, because the product is legal and sharks fin is “generally accepted by traditional Chinese people in Hong Kong.”

Close-up of the ad

Close-up of the ad

The company told Mumbrella in a statement: “According to our internal censorship guidelines, advertisements will not be accepted if they fail to comply with the law of Hong Kong. We would also consider the suitability and acceptability of the ads to be displayed in the MTR system taking into account the public interests of all age groups.”

“Since the products displayed in this advertisement are legal and also generally accepted by traditional Chinese people in Hong Kong; and that the message does not contain any false or misleading description of the products promoted, it is deemed appropriate for display,” a JCDecaux spokesperson said.

Reasons for not eating sharks fin, graphic: SCMP

Reasons for not eating fin, graphic: SCMP

The news emerges just after a survey conducted by WildAid, an NGO that is fighting the illegal trade in wildlife, found that 85 per cent of Chinese consumers said that had given up sharks fin soup in the last three years, according to a report by Hong Kong English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post.

Most cited environmental awareness initiatives as the reason they have stopped eating sharks fin, for example the campaign for WildAid fronted by NBA basketball star Yao Ming and by Sir Richard Branson’s non-for-profit group Virgin Unite.

Others cited a desire to protect sharks, the way in which sharks fins are harvested, the rise in fake sharks fin products and the worry of stock tainted by pollutants.

The sharks fin trade has taken a hit in recent years, partly because of austerity measures in China to cut down on lavish banquets held by party officials. Green group WWF reported that the trade from Hong Kong to the mainland fell by around 90 per cent in a year, the SCMP reported last week.

The sharks fin issue has produced some hard-hitting advertising from international green groups in recent years, such as those by direct action group Sea Shepherd. This ad ran in the US.

Sea Shepherd has directly targeted the Chinese community with its advertising. Saatchi & Saatchi created this campaign to bring an end to the tradition of serving shark’s fin soup at Chinese weddings in Singapore.

Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore campaign for Sea Shepherd


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