Cheng Hong (鄭航) and Victory Advertising (勝利廣告)

York Lo: Cheng Hong (鄭航) and Victory Advertising (勝利廣告)

Victory Advertising Image 1 York Lo

Left: Cheng Hong (center) next to Tin Tin Daily publisher Wai Kee-shun (right) and Miss HK 1969 Tam Mei-mei (left) at the press conference regarding the Miss Hong Kong contest in 1970 (WKYP, 1970-5-5); Right: Article about Victory’s client General cigarettes’ promotional campaign with a song guessing contest across HK ran by actors Ko Lo-chuen and Yu Ming in 1963(KSEN, 1963-2-17)

In the 1960s and 1970s, Victory Advertising & Trading was one of the leading Chinese-owned advertising agencies in HK. Led by the dynamic Cheng Hong (鄭航, whose full name is Cheng Fei-hong鄭斐航), Victorypromoted its clients using a wide range of innovative campaigns from ads to game shows and pageants across multiple medium from radio, television, print, movies to outdoor  advertising like billboards and posters.

Born in Zhongshan in Guangdong in 1921, Victory founder Cheng Hong was formerly a patrolman in Canton and got his start making street flyers and postersaccording to Stephen Li, the first sales manager for TVB. His agency was largely a family affair with his wife and brother in law taking care of most of its operations. The famous comedic actor Michael Hui (許冠文) got his start working at Victory although he only stayed for a month before joining the British-owned agency Millington for another two months then quitting advertising all together to start his show business career. (李雪廬回憶錄, pp 51-52)

In the 1960s, advertising in HK had gone from print to multimedia with the emergence of radio, television and movies and Cheng Hong was quick to realize the potential of these new channels and capitalized on them.

One of Victory’s major clients in the 1960s was United Tobacco (美聯煙草), the local affiliate of American cigarette giant P. Lorillardoperated by construction magnate Paul Y. Tso (see article on Paul Y. and Dao Kwei Kee) and his son in law Richard Yung and Victory was responsible for promotion of its “General” (將軍牌香煙) and “World” (金牌香煙) brands of cigarettes. For the “General” brand, Victory organized a campaign featuring famous generals throughout history. For “World”, Victory organized a charity campaign on Commercial Radioin 1969 which raised over $13,000 for heart operation for a heart disease patient in Taiwan and donated the remaining $3,500 to the Community Chest. It also ran lucky draws on TVB hosted by Tam Ping-man featuring gifts sponsored by Sincere Co and others.

In the early 1960s, Cheng ventured into the movie business with the establishment of Summit Films (高峰影業)which produced “Injustice Undone” (沉冤得雪,1962, starring Law Kim-long and Fung Wong Nui) and “Diary of a Husband” (大丈夫日記,1964, based on the popular Commercial radio program starring Lam Bun and one of the top 10 grossing films that year), both of which with Cheng’s wife Tang Kit-chun (鄧潔真) listed as producer. In 1965, Victory moved into Room 514 of Man Yee Building in Central. (KSDN, 1965-7-3)

Victory Advertising Image 2 York Lo

Left: The winners of “HK Maiden”, “HK Youth” and “HK Songbird” in 1966 (left to right): Helen Ma, Ho Yau-hung, Paula Tsui; Center: Ad for the three contests organized by Victory in 1966 sponsored by General, Movado, Tin Tin and Shaw’s; Right: Louise Lee as winner of “Princess of H.K.” in 1968 

In late 1960s, Cheng Hong came up with the idea of organizing beauty pageants and talent shows to help promote his advertising clients. Under Victory and a new organization by the name of Oriental Pageants (東方選美會), Cheng organized not just one but three contests in 1966 – “Hong Kong Maiden”(香港玉女), “Hong Kong Youth” (香港青年) and the singing contest “Hong Kong Songbird” (香港之鶯)  with General cigarettes as lead sponsor and Movado watches, Tin Tin Daily News and Shaw studio as co-sponsors. Of the three contests, “Hong Kong Youth” and its winner Ho Yau-hung (何友雄) have faded into history, “Hong Kong Maiden” ran until 1968 and its first winner Helen Ma(馬海倫) has a long career as an actress first for Shaw and later for TVB.The winner of “Hong Kong Songbird” –the 17 years old Paula Tsui (徐小鳳) became a legendary singer.

In 1968, Oriental Pageants organized “Princess of Hong Kong” (香港公主) with Shiseido cosmetics, Girard-Perregaux watches (芝柏表, represented by Gilman)and Collin Lim fashion as sponsors (WKYP, 1968-5-19). The 18 years old winner Louise Lee Si-kei (李司棋)has been a leading star of TV soap operas for the past several decades. From 1967-1970, Victory also organized the “Miss Hong Kong” (香港小姐) pageant with Revlon cosmetics, Shui Hing Department store, Girard-Perregaux and Triumph underwear as sponsors.

In April 1969, Cheng Hong organized a 76th birthday party for his mother Madam Lee and its guest list of several hundred celebrities highlight Cheng’s extensive social network across business, media and entertainment sector, ranging from his clients Paul Y. Tso (and his son and son in law) and Samson Sun, fellow clansman Cheng Chik-chi of Chiaphua, the Wai brothers of Tin Tin Daily and Yee Tin Tong, studio heads Kwan brothers of Kin Shing Studio and Ho brothers of Kong Ngee studio to actors Leung Sing-bor, Tse Yin and Lui Kei, actress Nam Hung and Lydia Shum and radio star Chung Wai-ming. (WKYP, 1969-4-22)

Victory Advertising Image 3 York Lo

Left: Cheng Hong (center) on behalf of the World cigarette fundraising campaign presenting a check to Samson Sun who was receiving on behalf of Community Chest in 1969 (KSEN, 1969-1-6); Right:Cheng Hong (first from the right, seated) with his family at the 76th birthday celebration for his mother in 1969 (KSEN, 1969-4-22)

In July 1971, Victory relocated to Room 603 at Hung Kei Mansion at 5-8 Queen Victoria Street. (KSEN, 1971-7-1) In the 1970s,Victory’s clients included the liquor brands of Martini & Rossi, Beefeater Gin and Teachers Whisky in addition to General cigarettes. (Asian Press and Media Directory, 1975) As a firm, Victory Advertising & Trading was incorporated in 1971 and dissolved in 2006.

Victory Advertising Image 4 York Lo

Left: Cheng Hong (center) with two fellow members of the Lion Rock Lion Club participating in cross harbor swim in 1977 (WKYP, 1977-11-15); Right: Cheng Hong in his later years

In the 1970s, Cheng Hong established the Vila Verde Group which operatedRadio Vila Verde (綠邨電台) and its HK-incorporated affiliate Macau Commercial Broadcasting (HK) Ltd (澳門商業廣播(香港)有限公司), Vila Verde Travel Services (綠邨旅行社, incorporated in 1975, became a subsidiary of Sing Tao Holdings and dissolved in 2005) and Vila Verde Post (incorporated in 1972 and dissolved in 1984) which launched the newspaper of the same name (綠邨報) in 1974 and had circulation of 25000 in the late 1970s. (Asian Press and Media Directory, 1979)

Outside of business, Cheng was very active in community affairs, having served as supervisor of the Cheng Family Association, chairman of Chung Shan Association of Cheung Chau and Peng Chau, president of the Lion Club of Lion Rock and served as chairman of the 7th district committee of Kowloon City (committee members at the time include the king of neonlight Tam Wah-ching and future Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan) until 1980. (WKYP, 1980-4-2) In 1980, Cheng received the Badge of Honor from the Queen for his community services. (WKYP, 1980-7-11)

Cheng Hong and his wife (fourth and fifth from the right) with family and friends at the airport before flying out to London for his second son Stephen Cheng’s wedding in 1978. (WKYP, 1978-1-27)

In 1985, Cheng Hong retired from business andleft HK for Calgary, Canada but remained active. He was appointed advisor to Sing Tao Newspapers in 1988 for their Canadian business and led the establishment and development of the Calgary Chinatown Seniors’ Centre in the 1990s. He also wrote columns in Chinese newspapers and even hosted a local Chinese TV program in Calgary and for his community service post retirement, he received another medal from the Queen in 2003. His three sons all studied in the UK, two of whom are accountants while one of them is a pharmacist.

Sources (other than those cited above):

This article was first posted on 2nd October 2020.

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