GREY HONG KONG, Hong Kong / HSBC / 2017

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To turn a silent topic into a discussion that no one could ignore, we needed a device – one that everyone in the city has attachment to. Also, it shall be meaningful to the LGBT community.

Our idea was inspired by a cultural-rooted insight:

‘Lion Rock Spirit’, one of the core Hong Kong values inherited through generations, holds locals together through solidarity and perseverance to strive for a better society.

This symbolic meaning of lions gave us a starting point.

With two bronze lion statues, Stephen and Stitt, guarding the HSBC Main Building for years, the lions are an enduring symbol of HSBC and Hong Kong. They even appear on the banknotes, making them synonymous with HSBC that locally the bank is affectionately known as “the Lion Bank”.

Therefore, we decided to use the city’s icons to make a bold statement. And turned the HSBC lions into Rainbow Lions.


Collaborating with renowned local gay artist, Michael Lam, HSBC created designs inspired by the colours of the Pride rainbow and respecting traditional Feng Shui principles.

Stephen was designed to look as if it was wearing the rainbow flag, with the bold stripes representing courage to be true to oneself. Stitt was designed with rainbow swirls, encouraging unity in diversity.

Both had white teeth, pastel hues, yellow paws and a green base, adhering to Feng Shui principles for ongoing prosperity of the bank and Hong Kong. The Rainbow Lions were launched and blessed by a famous Feng Shui Master, Master Lung, to show HSBC’s respect to traditional culture.

By combining traditional Feng Shui principles with the pro-LGBT designs HSBC sent a powerful message that traditional and modern values can co-exist in harmony.


Not only did the campaign help HSBC spark LGBT conversation, but also draw global attention to LGBT inclusion and progress.

1. Promote LGBT inclusion and progress beyond Hong Kong

• In a city, which has traditionally shied away from LGBT conversation, the campaign became the talk of the town and spread to over 26 countries. Major global news across the world, including BBC News, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Time covered the campaign, while some even did a deep-dive analysis of this societal issue in Hong Kong.

• The campaign garnered over $6,333,000 earned media value, 14X higher than the campaign media spent (Target: 5X)

2. Encourage a culture of Diversity and Inclusion within the organisation

• Not only did the campaign stir up conversations globally, it also became a source of Pride for HSBC employees. The HSBC Pride Employee Network membership grew by over 340% to over 2,000 members


This work tells the story of how a bank sparks a global conversation around LGBT inclusion starting from a city, which has traditionally shied away from LGBT conversation.

To support LGBT progress in Hong Kong, HSBC’s Rainbow Lions campaign takes the culturally untouchable guardian statues and turns them into a bold statement. It turned a silent topic into a discussion that no one could ignore, which ultimately became a global topic discussed by news media and people around the world.


Per Fung Shui principles, Chinese guardian lion statues were believed to have powerful mythic protective benefits on the premises. They can be found at the entrance of imperial palace, offices, shops, hotels and restaurants in all places where the Chinese have settled.

As the protector of HSBC and Hong Kong, the HSBC lions are untouchable. Simply painting them with the rainbow colours might ruin the Fung Shui of both HSBC and Hong Kong, trampling on the Chinese traditional values.

Therefore, our approach is to combine the traditional principles with the progress values. Only by doing so could we give new meaning to the city’s icons for promoting LGBT progress in a disruptive yet harmonious way.


In many parts of the world, the LGBT community is celebrated. But Hong Kong isn’t one of them.

It’s where the local language of transgender is directly translated as ‘Human Monster’. Even talking about LGBT equality publicly is a taboo.

As HSBC’s CEO put it, “I want my colleagues to be themselves when they come to work, and I want our millions of customers around the world to see themselves in HSBC”.

HSBC aspires to create a place where people are valued, respected and supported to achieve their potential.


1. Promote LGBT inclusion and progress in Hong Kong

• Spark city-wide conversation through earned media at 5X multiply effect of media budget

2. Encourage a culture of Diversity and Inclusion within the organisation

• Increase HSBC Pride Employee Network membership by 150%

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