Stars from the world of sport, wacky themes from prohibition to aviation and some excellent work to help underprivileged children in Hong Kong — those were just some of the options for visitors to the corporate boxes at this year's Hong Kong Sevens.
But while Olympic champions Fiji ran out as predictable winners on the pitch, doing the unlikely proved a winning formula for the weekend's other coveted prize — the FinanceAsia Best Box at the Sevens award.
BNP Paribas stood out from the crowd thanks to its Sherlock Holmes-themed box. The decor was impressively designed to conjure up 221B Baker Street — and some of the bank's staff gleefully dressed as the most famous characters from the books.
The box included a photographer dressed as Dr Watson, a friendly Mrs Hudson, and of course, a man dressed as Holmes himself. BNP's Sherlock was more of a magician than a detective — and his simple tricks would not have fooled anyone remotely sober. They did fool us, however.
You can see more pictures from the boxes at our gallery.
BNP plied guests with goodies. Most guests could be seen wearing deerstalkers — the hat of choice for Sherlock Holmes — and a few clutched the magnifying glasses and smoking pipes the bank handed out. It is likely that a few hundred of these were cleaned up from the stadium on Sunday night.
The choice of theme puzzled some in the box. A French bank paying homage to that most British of characters? It's something to do with Brexit, a few wags hazily concluded. In any case, it was undoubtedly a fun choice.
Jessica Chan BNP's events manager (pictured with Sherlock) said: "Our Sherlock Holmes theme is purely entertainment for the clients and their kids". It's a deserved victory for the defending champion — long may the creativity continue.
Carrie on for a good cause
The runner up prize goes to a worthy cause.
Mission Possible had a smaller box than last year but upped the ante on decor.
With a 'Neon Wanchai' theme the box was fun for the high-profile guests who had paid HK$20,000 each to enter and support this year's charities. Peter Bennett, a former JP Morgan banker and head of the Peter Bennett Foundation, covered all of the box costs so every cent went to charity.
Hong Kong chief executive-elect Carrie Lam (pictured) and chief secretary Mathew Cheung dropped by on Saturday to support the charity and pose with children who enjoyed a morning treat at the Sevens care of the four benficiary charities. They were also able to make use of space at some of the other boxes, as box-holders donated the space at a time when their clients were sleeping off their hangovers and the facilities were underused.
"A great bunch of people came to watch rugby and give back to the wider community," said Peter Bennett. Mission Possible is on track to raise about HK$2.5 million to HK$3 million for its chosen charities.
The second runner-up was HSBC, which delighted FinanceAsia staff by serving up some exciting guests.
HSBC's box was more low-key in terms of decor. Chinese porcelain vases behind the bar were a nod to the bank's biggest client base in the region, but there was little discernible theme beyond that. It did not matter — the box attracted impressive crowds as always and was an ideal place to watch the rugby.
The bank also brought in a stellar cast of rugby legends, including Irish superstar Brian O'Driscoll, World Cup winner Jason Robinson, and Ben Ryan, the Fiji Sevens coach who brought the country a gold medal at the Rio Olympics. Other sports stars included British former track and field athlete, Sebastian Coe.
HSBC's box was also packed on Sunday with some of Hong Kong's biggest names in business including magnate Alan Zeman and Li & Fung's William Fung.
HSBC's Stuart Gulliver was in attendance, chatting with guests.
A DJ kept the party atmosphere alive in the ground level box. Guests were also given access to the Hexagon Suite across the road from the stadium, where the drinks flowed freely and the food got rave reviews.
Best of the rest
UBS went with a Prohibition theme for its box, which stood out amid some of the more drab boxes on the same level. The bank's friendly staff gave guests a warm welcome — and proved skilful adjudicators in a raucous game of beer pong.
It came as a surprise to our reporters to learn that beer pong was a staple of Prohibition-era watering holes, but we're not complaining. The game added to the lively atmosphere in the box, as did a game of Blinko Pinko that forced two guests to dance the Macarena. This box proved a popular choice among commenters on FinanceAsia's Facebook page.
Credit Suisse went with an obvious but effective theme: pure rugby. The floor was astro-turf and the walls were covered with photos of a cheering crowd. Guests were given goodies including rugby shirts and rugby balls.
The bank hosted an enjoyable test of speed and reflexes, asking guests to hit a series of flashing lights as quickly as possible. While the real sport was going on outside, the game allowed one of our journalists a rare feeling of sporting prowess when he got the fastest time. It was, alas, a short-lived feeling — about 10 seconds later, his record was smashed.
Credit Suisse brought along two Olympic legends — rower Steve Redgrave and gymnast Li Xiaopeng — on Saturday afternoon. It offered face painting and photos on both Saturday and Sunday. Although our journalists opted not to get our faces painted, Credit Suisse was certainly one of the most fun boxes of the Sevens.
ANZ's box was packed again this year with top executives from many of Hong Kong's largest conglomerates, convivially hosted by Farhan Faruqui, group executive international, and Mark Whelan, group executive institutional.
Germany's Deutsche Bank opened a "D-bar" at the Sevens, serving guests a dedicated menu of drinks, with decent cocktail regulars including dirty martini and Bloody Mary. The protein fruit mix "energy shake" was a popular choice for the morning.
Celebrity DJ Miles Slater did an amazing job to liven up the box with great music.
CBRE did not opt for a heavily-themed box like some of the banks, but the property company managed to retain the fun factor. CBRE's friendly staff greeted all-comers with a smile, and guests made heavy use of marker pens to scribble their names — and the odd lament to a lost rugby game — on the wall.
The US investment banks' boxes couldn't have been plainer. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley's boxes were adorned with little more than corporate logos. Maybe they couldn't quite believe the pressure to be buttoned up has eased now Trump is rolling back regulation on financiers.
Citi's box was the liveliest of the American banks. The Asia CEO Francisco Aristeguieta made it on Sunday, flying in from Shanghai to greet guests
Citi combined multiple sports in its box decor, with displays on the theme "Rugby and Football", of the American variety and soccer.
The USA rugby team paid a visit to the Citi box, bringing quite a surprise to the fans. The players must've been inspired by the company as they narrowly missed out on the final, putting in by far the best performance from a US team in this contest.
A sweet souvenir from the bank was a personalised T-shirt with your choice of letters inked on the back, which can be your name, initials or favourite player's number, etc.
Last but not least, the never-refined team at CLSA took flight with a First Class aviation theme, complete with sexy stewardesses, ice sculpture and a creatively decked out location ... but too much of a reminder of the hungover flight home many guests will be taking on Monday?