I Love You

17 Sep 2006

I just read in a Flemish newspaper that in Hong Kong, the first(?) auction of personalized licence plates (vanity licence plates) has been organized on Saturday. The ‘I LOVE U’ licence plate went over the counter for a mere 180.000 dollars. Other uncommon plates such as HANDSOME, BABYFACE and MR DVD were auctioned as well. The morning session alone was good for 770.000 dollars. Local authorities want to gather money for projects that benefit the poor with actions such as these. They’re counting to draw in roughly 9 million dollars a year. Interesting. How much would you pay for a personalized plate? And what would it say?

After a bit more research I’ve found some other remarkable facts about this trend. It’s not the first time this is happening in Hong Kong. Back in 1999, Cora Tse, a secretary at a construction company sent to represent her boss, tittered nervously and made a winning bid, the equivalent of about $45,000. All for a piece of plastic labeled “HY1″ to be placed on the rear of her boss’ car. His company is called Hop Yuen. And he, of course, is No. 1.

Blond Plate

Vanity license plates are one thing. Many countries and U.S. states allow their citizens to advertise themselves, their true loves or their fantasies on their cars, usually for a modest fee. But Hong Kong has taken the licence plate game to a new level by auctioning off requested or desirable plates to raise money for government-approved charities. In 1994, for instance, a wealthy man named Albert Yeung Sau-shing paid nearly $4 million (13 million HK dollars) for the right to a single-digit plate: “9.” That number nine sounds like “ever lasting” in Cantonese.

In February 2006, actor and Hong Kong action hero Jackie Chan paid 1.5 million dollars (192,000 US) for a lucky car license plate, marking one of the highest prices reached at auction this year. The plate digits were ‘123′. Money well spent.

A mysterious man in a mask drove off with the most expensive vehicle license plate sold in Hong Kong since 1997, shelling out HK$7.1 million (US$910,000) at a weekend auction, a Hong Kong newspaper reported on Monday. The man, who wore a surgical mask and would not identify himself, left the auction immediately after winning the bid for license plate number 12, which sounds like “certainly easy” in Cantonese, the South China Morning Post said in February 2005.

1 Comment

Posted by Miel Van Opstal in Humor, Marketing, Trends


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  1. PL8S

    October 13, 2006 at 11:01 pm

    Good for North America, it has not become a commodity here yet.