Who had the best box at the HK Sevens 2016?

FinanceAsia's annual round-up of the best boxes at Hong Kong Stadium as banks and financial institutions compete to impress clients at the city's big party.

BNP Paribas wins FinanceAsia's best box competition for 2016 with its fifties barber shop theme.

The thinking? The barbers' shop used to be a place for relaxed socialising. Staff donned 1950s clothing and a hairdresser was on hand to expertly curl the hair of the women present and a DJ played fifties tunes.

The clincher might've been the fact the theme continued even into the bathroom, with conditioner, shampoo pictures, and deodorant as the humidity climbed on Friday and Saturday, before downpours and storms dampened the mood on Sunday.

For a collection of photographs showcasing the best of the boxes, click here.

A close runner up was EY. With an eye on the biggest film of recent months, it adopted a Star Wars theme, complete with stormtroopers and lightsabers. 

Credit Suisse marked the 20th anniversary of its presence in India with a colourful box. The decor was suggestive of an Indian market stall draped in colourful fabrics.

Attendance when FinanceAsia dropped in on the Friday was boosted by people who had been attending Credit Suisse's Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong last week.

ANZ's CEO for international banking Farhan Faruqui and Ivy Au Yeung, CEO Hong Kong, were the perfect hosts in the Australian bank's box. Guests included Alibaba's Joseph Tsai, former England Sevens rugby player Ben Gollings and Affinity Equity Partner's KY Tang.

HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver mingled with guests from Li & Fung and other major corporates in the British-headquartered bank's box.

The best service was in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group's box where staff waited on guests. 

This is local charity Mission Possible’s fourth consecutive year at the Hong Kong Sevens.

Mission Possible raises money for the less fortunate individuals and families in Hong Kong.
This year the Mission Possible theme is “Super Hero”, inspired by the words of David Bowie ... “We can be heroes, just for one day”. The charity’s guest of honour, the Chief Secretary of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, visited the box on Saturday.

"We're here to support Mission Possible for all the good work it is doing for Hong Kong charities," said Steve Fung, who was in the box with his dad, Fred.

UBS ran with a photography-themed box this year. The entrance including a collage of photo shots across the walls, while the inside featured a 'selfie' camera, two foot wide, on the wall. 

At the front of the box, overlooking the stadium, a couple of photographers' light umbrellas stood over the models. Bankers and journalists stood amid it all, quaffing wine or beer, and jostling to take photos of each other. Battery charging stations offered a welcome respite for the battery-challenged mobile phones, too

The theme carried through into the goody bags being handed out. Macro and fish-eye lenses for mobile phones were included, along with 'celebrity' sunglasses, for those that like their eye protectors in bright primary colours.

"UBS is delighted to partner with [famed Hollywood photographer] Annie Leibowitz, and to help celebrate the digital age we thought we should go with a theme of photography," said Elodie Coscas, head of client marketing in Hong Kong, and the events organiser for the Swiss bank.

Citi's box had a “Rugby and the Olympics” theme designed to highlight rugby’s re-entry into the Olympic sports family from the 2016 Summer Olympics onwards. Children could have fun with electronic games on the walls. There were also displays on the history of rugby and the Olympics. Do you know who the reigning Olympic rugby gold medallists are? You may be surprised by the answer.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, meanwhile, focused more on offering mouth watering curry dishes along with naan bread and copious amounts of alcohol, a mixture guaranteed to satisfy the horde of journalists greedily attending its Friday evening media soiree.

The US bank's decorations were nothing to fire the imagination, but this was offset by the friendliness of its welcome and box atmosphere.

Cowboy fun with PwC

Stars fall in

Deutsche Bank, for its part, offered a cocktail bar and DJs, while former rugby stars Eric Rush and David Campese dropped by on the Saturday for a meet-and-greet session with children.

"People just need to have fun and not take it all too seriously," said DJ Miles Slater, who was behind the decks.

PwC, meanwhile, combined an interesting mix of rugby stadium and cowboys - with a DJ set up in the corner, pounding out party tunes. A friendly crowd was there, soaking in the eclectic atmosphere. 

Marketing team members dressed as cowboy/girls and were easy to spot in the aisle outside the boxes. The whole box was decorated as the HK stadium, with 3D stands popping out from the wall and a (fake) grass floor.

One member of the bank's marketing team said they had been preparing for the sevens for months and had several ideas from senior executives to ponder.

Welcome to CLSA jungle

Never known for keeping things refined, CLSA had one of the liveliest boxes and most boisterous guests.

An eye-catching ice scultpure was the centrepiece, while the rest of the box was kitted out with a jungle theme with leopard-skin covered seats. Glamorous girls were on hand to greet guests.

Morgan Stanley boldly retained its theme of minimalism for the 2016 Sevens, for the second year in a row, with no decorations at all. Its food offerings were pretty bare-bones too - unappetising sandwiches in plastic boxes. Claims that this was just a convenient excuse to avoid doing any actual work preparing the box could neither be confirmed nor denied by presstime.

Macqaurie also went for a minimalist, white theme with simple decorations, including a big picture (Japanese tori by the sea) in the middle of box, which was taken by the winner of internal photo competition.

Events organisers said they have been using this "internal photo competition" theme for the 7s box since 2008. Visitors could also show off their skills by taking Polaroid snaps, which could be posted immediately on the wall.

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