(Xinhua/Cheong Kam Ka)

OPINION – Macau’s Solution to the Pandemic Crisis

An eye-catching headline in a local newspaper exposes the dangers of believing what you read when it comes to advertising or marketing. How to catch your reader, client or customer is a key feature of promoting your product or service; how to do it?

Opinion | Keith Morrison – Author and educationist

One way is to impress your reader with name‑dropping and making text impenetrably replete with high-sounding phrases. But it doesn’t necessarily work. Take this example from Bhaskar, writing in 1994: ‘Hegel served only to replicate in his actualistic monovalent analytic reinstatement in transfigurative reconciling dialectical connection, while in his hubristic claims for absolute idealism he inaugurated the Comtean, Kierkegaardian and Nietzschean eclipses of reasons, replicating the fundaments positivism through its transmutation route to the superidealism of Baudrillard’. Brain torpor is setting in. I’m lost. I think I’ll put that back on the bookshop shelf.

Or how about this one: ‘We incorporate data, machine learning and analytics alongside a strong behavioural science and visual design capability to provide lasting value across all the projects we deliver’ (https://mudano.com/why/). Spare us.

Or how about going for a piece of talking-up jingoism: attach the word ‘solutions’ to everything. Ask yourself ‘how many times is it really meaningful or simply sleight-of-hand hyperbole’? For example, fictitiously speaking: ‘bathroom redesign for customized, client-centred living solutions’: ‘paint’; ‘international luxury-living solutions for your own designer bedroom’: ‘new curtains’; ‘revolutionary innovatory solutions to information-age management’: ‘spreadsheets’; ‘health-giving, protective vitalizing solutions to promote your child’s well-being’: ‘formula milk’. Try attaching the word ‘solutions’ to sales-talk; it seldom fails to expose the nonsense at work in promotional statements, where ‘problems’ are conflated mistakenly with ‘ideas’.

There seems to be a restricted code of grotesque terms which seem to be de rigueur in promotion-speak from a cabal of cognoscenti, in which ‘deliver’, ‘solutions’, ‘value’ (or, better still, ‘value-added’), ‘maximize’, ‘win-win’ (or, even better, ‘win-win solutions’) and ‘innovative’ or their cognates frequently figure. Look at this: ‘our core strengths are the combination of our consulting expertise, technical skills, and product development capability to provide government and commercial organizations with innovative solutions to maximize business values’ (http://win-winsolution.com/). Yawn.

Talking of ‘solutions’, how about making claims that bring a tear of laughter to the cheeks of readers? A Macau newspaper reported that the ‘solution’ to the pandemic crisis in Macau, discussed in Macau’s Legislative Assembly, is ‘tourism diversification’, which could include sport tourism and medical tourism. Really? Adding the word ‘tourism’ to other possible ‘solutions’ to the pandemic in Macau deflates any cachet of ‘tourism’.

But wait; in Macau, how about other kinds of tourism ‘solutions’: ‘environmental mess tourism’; ‘roadwork tourism’; ‘hole tourism’; ‘congestion tourism’; ‘stink tourism’; ‘crowd tourism’; ‘how not to build a light rail system tourism’; ‘how to wait for ages in a hospital tourism’; ‘how to go round endless government departments to get an answer tourism’; ‘how to be squashed in supermarket tourism’; ‘how to survive a bus ride tourism’? Appending ‘tourism’ to a statement does not necessarily make it more attractive or add anything worthwhile.

My point is very simple: be real and realistic in what to say and plan when promoting Macau. If Macau really is to become the much-talked-about World Center of Tourism and Leisure other than for gambling, a bit of quaint heritage visitation, and eating, then we must staunch the flow of over-statement, of selective statements, and of claiming the impossible.

Maybe George Orwell had it right when he remarked that ‘advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket’. For Macau to diversify its tourism needs more than a few high-sounding terms; it needs to have something real to offer, and I simply do not see this in the suggestion of sports or medicine.

With some very high profile exceptions, sports events and medical tourism are typically restricted to participants rather than tourists. And, anyway, I thought that the solution to the pandemic crisis was to halt the pandemic, in which the Macau government has excelled to date, not to diversify tourism. Silly me.