Marketing in Thailand as a Foreigner: Volume 2.1 Ad Campaign Crossroads: Global Materials vs. New Investment

Sometimes it’s okay to wear socks and sandals

Foreign traders sometimes have to be bold enough to wear socks and sandals in a tropical country like Thailand to stand out. If you are wondering why: READ HERE. I have no room to rewrite all of this; otherwise, you would think that this article is too long, but it is already long enough that I have to separate this volume into 2 parts.

2nd volume.1: Ad Campaign Crossover: Global Materials vs. New Investment PART 1

The first reflex of any foreign merchant to promote a product is to represent a brand or a product with the undiscovered ideas of the locals. Usually, you’ll be tested at the crossroads between using unrelated world materials with some tweaking (which in this case is translation) or investing in a new ad campaign. It is obvious that the majority would opt for the former. Apart from the concern for accessibility, it’s more exhilarating because it gives you a sense of rolling up your sleeves and starting from scratch for enduring thoughtful strategic brainstorming and an endless period of production. It’s super logical and solid, but is it really necessary?

That’s why I’d like to take another angle to look at it. Documents distributed from head office or international branches can be tedious but extremely cost effective. Advertising is only a fragment of the contribution to the success of marketing. The following are personal criteria that I need to consider before rushing the entire marketing budget in vain starting from scratch when you already have something effective to work on.

The 1st criterion and the most cliché: Your Marketing Objectives

Most of the time, the goal of deciding on these two approaches is to create value towards your brand or products through advertisements. So the marketing instinct in me “always” pushes me to find another better local insight to rival the message that the global team had already converted into tangible brand material. Just using the highly repeated global advertising already makes me feel weak because I believe effectiveness comes from accessibility through location because people from different nations possess various cultural pain points.

But I always remember that pain points are universal, sometimes (please underline this adverb of frequency). Take Apple as an example. Apple’s (almost) last campaign in Thailand is about consumer privacy security (which is painful for online advertisers like us due to their data regulations). It may not be necessary to search for a new problem or so-called ideas when the objective is very simple and the functionality of its product is designed to do so clearly. Data privacy is universal, and the functionality of product functionality has only one job to communicate. What’s the point of adding fancy investments because our instincts challenge me to be better than the global?

The global version of Apple Ad

Marketing in Thailand as a Foreigner: Volume #2.1 Ad Campaign Crossroads: Global Materials vs. New Investment |  News by Thaiger

Thai version of Apple Ad with translated title and voiceover

But please don’t be mistaken. Sometimes (emphasize again!), finding a hidden pain point is essential, and so I chose this extravagant solution. The example is my project of Soffell, a mosquito repellent in the form of a lotion and a spray. Soffell is an Indonesian brand. In the past, Soffell Thailand had used materials from the global team, which worked well enough. However, our team was challenged to make a difference as Soffell reached its peak using Indonesian materials. My team discovered that the level of fear of mosquitoes among Thai people depends on their region. The savagery of mosquitoes varies from place to place. This is the kind of cultural pain I talked about. The world team would never have discovered this. Therefore, localization is necessary as the globally released material is intended to highlight the generic use of the product, not to be specific about undiscovered pain points!

Marketing in Thailand as a Foreigner: Volume #2.1 Ad Campaign Crossroads: Global Materials vs. New Investment |  News by Thaiger

Left: Thai version of Soffell Ad, right: International version of Soffell Ad

Marketing in Thailand as a Foreigner: Volume #2.1 Ad Campaign Crossroads: Global Materials vs. New Investment |  News by Thaiger

Soffell’s well-received campaign titled “Soffell, Say Goodbye to Thai Mosquitoes”

There is much more to discuss!

There are two other criteria on which I would like to elaborate my point of view, but I think this is going to be too long for our objective which has deteriorated with the rise of TikTok. So my next volume will still be the same subject with more reasons to let you breathe and think before making such a lavish decision. I have to end this volume with my signature epilogue for my “Sometimes it’s okay to wear socks and sandals” article concept, but the rest of this volume has yet to be published. So I can’t make sense of these phrases repeated forever. But let me do it anyway:

If you’re bold enough to wait for part two of my article, yes, you’ll probably look weird. Yes, you will be notoriously remembered for your quirkiness. But one thing is that your ads will be unforgettable in our small country, which is the base of marketing. Remember, Justin Bieber once took off his socks and sandals! And I promise I will come back to this article to put the link to my second part of this volume once it is published.

Writer: Don Gorrith, Senior Strategic Planner at Yell advertising Bangkok