You’ll Love the Brain Behind ‘I Hate Thailand’
Arguably the year’s most talked about Thai advertising campaign ‘I Hate Thailand’ has stirred up a significant about of hype, amassing close to three million hits on YouTube and praise from intrigued and intrepid travellers worldwide. There’s something uniquely special about Thailand, and its intoxicating concoction of natural beauty and contradiction is indeed hard to label. There’s one agency that’s given it a shot — managing to take viewers on a journey that, true to its origins, has them both puzzled and enlightened along the way.
Leo Burnett Group Thailand chief creative officer Sompat Trisaikum (pictured below), based in Bangkok, speaks with LBB's Larissa Meikle about the agency's Tourism of Thailand campaign, judging Thai work on a global stage, and the unparalleled need for authentic storytelling in South East Asia.
LBB> With your time spent serving as president of Bangkok Art Directors’ Association and Chairman of judging panel of Adman Thailand, what does the Thai advertising community look for when awarding the best work from Thailand?
Sompat Trisaikum > To put it simply, our judging criteria is always “global creative standard with Thai local insight”.
At Adman there is a very diverse pool of experts from different fields on the judging panel, including creatives, client-marketers, strategy and planning, and university professors to balance the judging perspective.
LBB> What kind of work best resonates with the average Thai consumers?
ST> Good stories resonate with Thai people. Strong storytelling is the essential ingredient in the most successful examples of Thai advertising. Humour and emotional plot lines are most favoured by people.
LBB> What does it mean for a Thai agency to win at Adman Thailand?
ST> Winning at Adman provides significant recognition for Thai agencies as the award show celebrates creativity and work that delivers positive impacts for brands. For the same reason, Thai marketers rate the awards too.
Adman also has the added prestigious factor of being a show that is recognised by global creative ranking reports that keeps track of leading creative awards around the world.
LBB> Can you name your favourite campaigns to come out of Bangkok this year?
ST> One piece of work that really stood out for me recently is “Robot” created for King Power, a leading travel retailer at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok.
It is a story of a little boy who is waiting for the toy robot his father promised to buy for him when he returns from a trip overseas. A toy robot he has been excited about all day long. Yet when his father walks through the door with the toy robot in his hands, the overjoyed little boy runs into his arms, seemingly with no regard for the toy, a beautiful moment that shows how much he had missed his father.
The spot ended with a tagline that said, “Understanding traveller”. It is a simple story that aptly captured a human insight that while gifts are an expression of love for those you care about, nothing is more important than your family and the joy of a warm welcome home from a loved one.
In addition to this, one of the pieces of work I have been most proud of, from our team, is created for Tourism of Thailand and named “I hate Thailand”.
The work created a significant impact not just locally but globally. It became the world’s most talk about Thai tourism advertising campaign this year by media from all over the world, such as Fox News, ABC news, CBS, etc.
It helps to raise the voice for Thailand as a tourist destination and increased the number of tourists visiting our country.
LBB > How can the rest of the world learn from the Thai advertising community?
ST> The standout strength of Thai advertising has always been its ability to know, and be truly authentic to its culture. If there were anything the world could learn from us, it would be to identify that culture and to create work that is true to it and that reflects its uniqueness.
LBB> What advice would you give to upcoming Thai creatives looking to make a name for themselves on a global stage?
ST> Thailand has long proven its ability to create world-class creativity rooted in local insight that truly delivers a positive impact for brands. For young creatives, I think it is important for them to continue this legacy of being authentic and to create work that stays true to the Thai culture. They should constantly seek out new avenues, new perspectives and new ideas to deliver on that.
LBB> What do you think the future holds for the Thai advertising community - challenges and opportunities on a whole?
ST> We can speak about the challenges that confront the Thai advertising community or business in general for a long time. Challenges will confront our business, any business, across the world, and at any point in time. Instead of focusing on challenges, which are part and parcel of being in business, it is perhaps more constructive to think about the opportunities we have and can create.
As mentioned, the core essence of successful Thai advertising is world-class creativity rooted in local insight. The opportunity here is to take this clarity of ‘what defines successful communication’ forward in even more imaginative and creative ways with the multitude of possibilities we have today, albeit in true Thai style.
Technology, digital and mobile advancements have dramatically changed the way we live our lives and have enabled more possibilities than ever before. For Thailand, a market that continues to grow steadily in internet penetration – where smartphone ownership is soaring and expected to reach 100 per cent in the next four years – there is still a lot of room for improvement in these two areas. For creativity to truly make a mark on a global level, we need to wow the world again.