What is G.O.D. up to?

After triad T-shirts, it has created an alternative lifestyle mall

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HONG KONG--One of Hong Kong’s most unconventional retailers has launched Delay No Mall, a two-story shopping center catering to unconventional lifestyles, with a series of guerilla tactics.

Located in the heart of Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay district near the Regal hotel, which is saturated with luxury stores, Delay No Mall’s hip tenants include a bar, café, sleep pod rental operation, art gallery, performance van with a DJ and a tattoo parlor.

Dedicated to the arts and visual self-expression, the mall is anchored by its financial backer, a conceptual furniture and clothing chain called G.O.D. To raise awareness for the mall, G.O.D. has organized a series of series of flash mob inspired activities during rush hour, each of which was brandished with slogans that related to the mall’s tenants.

Stunts ranged from lying down in the middle of a street for a quick nap (“Dream Right Now”), sitting down for a picnic at the pedestrian crossing while the green lights were on (“Enjoy Right Now”), turning the subway into a improvised catwalk (“Wow Right Now”), indulging in mini games (“Play Right Now”) and collaborating on a work of communal art (“Create Right Now”), all in the busiest areas of Hong Kong. Another activity will be introduced every couple of weeks through April.

The tenants employed shock tactics inside the mall itself during the opening weeks. In one room, male actors pretended to play a game of strip poker, with clothes and hats piled on the floor. One wore nothing but a pair of G.O.D.’s underwear that was completely open on the back.

The offbeat marketing approach reflects G.O.D.’s spirited image as well as the mall’s limited budget, said Brian Ma, creative director at Leo Burnett, Hong Kong, which created the campaign.

“We’re inspired by the philosophy behind Delay No Mall,” he said, and decided to stage these sudden performances “to provoke and engage passersby, grabbing their attention when they least expected it. Our aim is to promote the brand’s unique characteristics, and encourage people to release and appreciate their own creativity.”

The campaign urges local shoppers to take action and unleash their creative spirit, a message that G.O.D.’s award-winning founders, Benjamin Lau and Douglas Young Chi-chiu, clearly have taken to heart, along with an affection for word play. The letters in the name stand for Goods of Desire, but the word phonetically sounds like a Cantonese slang for “to live better.”

Delay No Mall is a play on the name of G.O.D.’s casual wear fashion brand, Delay No More--the brand with the backless underwear--which has provoked negative attention in Hong Kong. Spoken quickly, the words sound like De lay lo mo in Cantonese, an extremely rude phrase having to do with someone's mother. Some local newspapers have refused to run ads for G.O.D. using the “Delay No More” tagline.

The store also made headlines late last year by commercializing Hong Kong’s history with gangsters known as triads. G.O.D. created T-shirts bearing the logo 14K, the name of one of the city's largest crime syndicates. The city’s police raided the store, seized boxes of the shirts and arrested 18 employees and designers.

The police later released all of G.O.D’s staff, but the action prompted a debate about freedom of speech in Hong Kong, now a special administrative region controlled by China’s Communist leaders. Critics also attacked the store for glamorizing gang membership, much the way a swastika might upset communities in the West.

“G.O.D.’s founders have always wanted to provoke reactions,” said Maurice Li, associate brand director at Leo Burnett, Hong Kong. “Hong Kong people don’t see creativity as something that’s important. We tried to integrated the mall’s offerings with the overall message, which is encouraging people to act.”
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