By combining youngsters' penchant for advanced cellphone technology and their fascination with pop stars and collectibles, the company is tapping the only growth segment left in this saturated mobile-phone market.
The service, called Star Mobile, has been launched on three branded channels, each of which features a participating music artist—Nicholas Tse, Joey Yung and 3T, an all-girl band.
One of Hong Kong's six mobile-phone operators, New World has 900,000 subscribers, but expects to sign up more than 30,000 new users almost immediately with the Star Mobile package.
"The prepaid market is growing because teenagers don't want their parents to know how much time and money they're spending on the phone," said Melanie Lee, New World's marketing director. But to get their attention, "we had to make the service fun."
%%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%% The sales packs retail for $13 and include a prepaid SIM card, which works with any Hong Kong cellphone, plus recharge coupons, trivia cards, film clips from the Star Mobile TV spot, downloadable ring tones, song clips, and a poster featuring an artist on one side and candy-colored service directions on the other.
"Hong Kong teenagers love to collect things, so we enhanced the service to make it part of the total marketing idea," says Hong Kong-based Jeffrey Yu, president, Asia, Bates Advertising, which developed the ad campaign and sales materials.
The service is marketed by a $1.3 million integrated campaign. Tse composed a song, "Second Life," for the ad, in which all five artists sing.
The campaign marks the Canto-pop rebel's return to the spotlight. Last year, he was jailed briefly when his Ferrari—with Tse at the wheel—slammed into a guardrail and he made his driver take the rap.
The controversy hasn't spooked New World. On the contrary, his antics further endeared him to his fan base and he now shares his jail experiences, on the phone, of course, with New World users.
"This isn't a celebrity campaign and he's not a spokesman," says Lee. "We're just delivering him to his fans, so it doesn't bother me that he was in jail. Shit happens."