What the Duck 3
The Duck Craze: The Business Side
While the duck exhibition itself is free, Hong Kong business establishments have gone into overdrive to make money off it, stimulating what some have called a “duck stimulus.” An entire business has sprung up around this new “member” of the city and has transformed the city.
There are, of course, the nearby stalls that sell everything from tiny rubber ducks to larger replicas with outfits and hats. However, businesses far more varied and unexpected have picked up on the duck craze as well. For example, some local restaurants have promptly added duck-shaped "curry duck rice" to their menus, while one is serving duck sculptures fashioned out of deep-fried mashed taro and shrimp. Yet another sold 1,000 slices of freshly baked yellow bread decorated like a duck's face in less than a week. A variety of other duck-inspired food products have sprung up around the city.
A different approach is that used by other restaurants and now, hotels. On Sina Weibo, which some consider China's version of Twitter, users have been trading tips on the restaurants that offer the best "duck view". As one entry says, "I think it is worth a try [for a "duck view" dinner] because you don't know when the duck will come to Hong Kong next." Meanwhile, the Marco Polo Hotel is offering a Giant Yellow Rubber Duck package, which, according to the promoters, includes rooms with "breathtaking" duck views, a complimentary rubber duck toy (while supplies last), and a late checkout for $300 a night.
Even the official Weibo account of Harbor City has a range of duck-related promotions, including a small Swarovski yellow duck. This is just one example of the thousands of duck collectibles now available in Hong Kong, from duck-shaped mobile phone docks to soap and shampoo bottles. A Hong Kong-based rubber duck manufacturer named Edeva Ltd., which produces around one million ducks a year in its factory across the border in the mainland China city of Dongguan, says inquiries are up 60% since the duck arrived in Hong Kong this month.
Looking at it through a shrewder lens, it is important to note the business side of the giant sculpture: the duck has different sponsors in different locations who pay for its installation, and this time, it was brought over as a promotion by Harbor City, a shopping mall in Victoria Harbor. Hong Kong's malls have a history of intense competition with each other for traffic using over-the-top installations; a recent example is a shriveled Ice Age-era baby mammoth from Siberia. "The competition is very fierce here," says Andrew Yeung of Harbor City, which spent several hundred thousand dollars to host the duck.
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