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U.S. Media Coverage

Two weeks after the Edison Chen sex photos first surfaced on the Internet, the scandal made headlines in many of the top U.S. daily newspapers, including New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Even one of the top tech industry trade magazine, ComputerWorld, has chimed in on their thoughts of the story. Given that the Chinese celebrities involved are fairly unknown or pretty low on the Hollywood C-list, it was interesting to read the different angles being taken by these non-Chinese publications who have just gotten wind of the story this week:

  • NYT focused on the free speech infringements made by the Chinese and Hong Kong governments by hunting down and arresting the bloggers who circulate and post the illicit photos.
  • WSJ on the other hand brought up the discussion that the photos have raised in China and Hong Kong’s more conservative societies. One interesting analogy came from an advertising executives whose aunts and grandmother has asked to see the original photographs and felt compelled to discuss it.
  • ComputerWorld obviously took a more tech stand point, blogging about the dos and don’ts of bringing in your computer for repairs and suggested backing up such photos on an external hard drive (if you choose to be so foolish as to keep such photos).

Public Relations Analysis

From a public relations stand point, I have been most interested in how these celebrities will handle their crisis communications and whether or not they will be able to continue their careers in Hong Kong’s entertainment industry. Will any of them be able to pull off a Paris Hilton and parlay the publicity from these sex photos into a career booster?

Though I doubt that any of them will be so lucky, my guess is that Edison and Cecilia will still be able to get film work though they both will be typed cast that the “baddie” or the “kid from the wrong side of the tracks.” It should be noted that both have played one or the other types of characters before, but it seems unlikely that they will every play the innocent, good kid characters again.

Gillian’s career however is likely to suffer the most since she is built her entire image on being squeaky clean and chaste. Not only that, but people have been quick to point out the hypocrisy of these photos given the bucket of tears fuss she made about the paparazzi taking photos of her changing last year.

Crisis Communications At Work

If any of them manages to really turn it around and make come back, I’d give them props. But I’ll have to wait and see, but so far, I have not been impressed by any of their PR/publicist’s recommendations and subsequent actions:

  • When the photos first appeared, Gillian Chung’s management agency, Emperor Entertainment Group (EEG), immediately denied that the photos were authentic and filed a police report.
    • Honesty is always the best policy; EEG should have verified the photos with their clients before issuing any kind of statements (but then again the starlet would have probably denied their authenticity, so either way, EEG would likely be in this pickle regardless). The backlash from denying anything especially when it is lie/wrong doing on the part of the company is usually disastrous.
  • Gillian Chung made a public statement and appearance, apologizing for the photos without confirming her involvement but calling herself “naive” and “silly.”
    • While she should be commended for actually making a statement in public unlike the other starlets involved, but giving off the ‘oops, my bad….let’s move on’ vibe as many publications have indicated would have been better played had she not already donned the ‘innocent victim and chaste young girl’ role in handling her previous paparazzi photo scandal. Now she faces criticism for being a hypocrite in addition to a sex pot.


  • Edison Chen made public plea for decency and half ass-ed apology on his blog via recorded video. This video has since been largely circulated on YouTube.
    • “Lame” –that’s the first word that popped into my mind when I watched this. Not only did his English sound so awkward (especially since he’s a native speaker from Canada), but something about his statement being made on-line seemed off-kilter to me. If he insisted on speaking directly to the public this when, then I think he should have spoke in Chinese and used a more authentic way of speaking then his quasi-formal choice of words.

    • I feel like he should have first issued a written statement on the wire and then make a public statement whenever he decides to come out of hiding. Trying to do the viral marketing thing when your scandal began and grew virally, seemed like a poor choice. Now, people have more material to work with:

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