Last week, Edison Chen made his “promised” return to Hong Kong and held a press conference to express his apologies and, more surprisingly, to announce his indefinite departure from the HK entertainment industry.
To watch the whole press conference, click on the video compiled and edited together by the South China Morning Post below:
Prior to Edison’s return from his self-imposed exile/hiding in the U.S. and Canada, the rumor mill on many Asian entertainment gossip blogs were flying off the charts. Here are my top picks:
- Edison Chen proposed to current girlfriend and reluctant adult film star, Vincy Yeung in a public relations bid to “clean up” his image, but was rejected (allegedly, multiple times). Vincey was said to have been following the advise of her family, who by the way owns Edison’s management company EEG Entertainment.
- Nicolas Tse and Cecilia Cheung were also rumored to have headed for divorce over the photos because it was alleged that Cecilia had been unfaithful while they were dating and during their marriage. Several strategic public outings, including a co-signed congratulatory gift to Aaron Kwok for his recent concert, are quickly putting these rumors to bed.
- Hong Kong’s triad bosses, who are known to pull all the strings in HK’s seedy entertainment industry, had put a bounty on Edison for tarnishing the industry. These gangsters were either after his life or his hand, which was why Edison was hiding out in Canada and in the U.S.
PR Analysis – Reassessment
In my first post, I made a few predictions about the careers of the three highest-profile individuals involved based on their pre-scandal image and their post-scandal crisis communications strategies.
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.”……. Gillian’s career however is likely to suffer the most since she is built her entire image on being squeaky clean and chaste.
Approximately one week later, let’s see how my analysis and assessment has fared so far:
- Edison Chen:Last Thursday (2/21), he announced an “indefinite” break from the Hong Kong entertainment industry in order devote his time to charity and soul-searching. This definitely was a very unexpected move, as I had anticipated that he would have been very confident in his ability to ride out the controversy and continue on with his life, status quo. Personally, I think that this maybe the smartest PR move that he has made since the whole thing started. With all the heat and criticism that he has received, his best (and possibly only) option is to lay low, very, very low, for a very long time. I suspect that he is banking on the media frenzy to eventually die down and move on to the next hot story to capture the Chinese people’s imagination and slowly start to erase all memory of his illicit photos from public concern. SCMP reported that his decision had received applause as well as doubts. (subscription required). Additionally, he was also smart to call it an “indefinite” break, which gives him leeway to make a possible, come back (but it would need to extremely well maneuvered by a very experienced and savvy public relations/publicity team). Though he has plenty to keep him occupied in the meantime, such as his many entrepreneurial ventures — from nightclubs to a clothing line, Clot. Last year, I read in an article from the San Francisco Chronicle in which he hoped to fashion himself into China’s Jay-Z. Good luck with that now, Edison.
- Cecilia Cheung: While most certainly not immune to rumors and criticism, it looks like Cecilia has been the more successful in continuing working without as much public outrage, as expected. It was a smart move for her to focus on more closed-door work (like filming or recording) as opposed to large venue publicity events. Interestingly enough, she has not made any public statement, which has actually worked to her advantage. From the look of her PR strategy, by not trying to win public forgiveness (especially, for something that she probably isn’t that sorry about) she is not faced with the public opinion about her sincerity and such. It also helps that that “good girl” character has never been apart of her public personal. Gillian, as we can see below, should really take notes from Cecilia’s people.
- Gillian Cheng: Also as expected, Gillian’s career has definitely taken a lot of heavy and hard hits, especially after her much criticized public apology/”I was naive and silly” statement. From her publicly-panned appearance on a recent TVB program to an emotional breakdown that has lead her to pull-out of a movie and several public appearances, and now to banned from performing at the Opening Ceremony during the 2008 Beijing Olympic—it’s really not looking good for this girl.
From the look at most of the headlines, the recent death of beloved HK comedian, Lydia Sum passed away, which has redirected much of the media attention in the recent days. Only time will tell how this will all play out, though unless more sex photo/video scandals pop up, the Hong Kong entertainment industry is unlikely to become more forgiving, or even becoming a career-maker for unknown would-be celebrity like Hollywood. But then again, that might be a really good thing.