Golf Nuntawat Chaipornkaew can’t hide his excitement at the thought of going home to the ‘land of smiles’ after being away for nearly a decade. Returning to Saatchi & Saatchi Thailand, where he started his career as a creative in 2002, is ‘perfect’, he says.
During his time away, advertising has changed, says Chaiporn-kaew. A decade ago, marketing was still a one-way conversation. Now, the industry is far more interesting, with real-time feedback allowing campaigns to adapt more quickly.
More should be done for brands on social media, he believes. Thai people are exceptionally active on social media, are committed to ads and seek great stories to share as a way to express themselves. “They want to be the first ones to spot a cool idea, so great content is so important now.”
However, some brands still make “old, boring” ads when they could be doing meaningful work, Chaipornkaew says. “It’s not only about awareness, but more about participation.”
Thai ads must maintain the powerful emotions and humour that make them unique. “Thai ads really move people — from tear-jerking to funny. The principle hasn’t changed much, but I can see a wider spectrum of emotions and more channels to connect with people.”
Humour is evident everywhere in the country — from street signs and bumper stickers to everyday conversations. But sometimes, that humour doesn’t always go over so well with the rest of the world. Recent controversy over a Dunkin’ Donuts ad in Thailand featuring a woman in blackface makeup brought accusations of racism on the internet and a US-based human rights group. “As a Thai, it’s hard for me to analyse and rationalise Thai humour as it’s our cultural DNA and a way of life, but we need to be mindful about creativity due to a more united market and broader audiences,” he says.
The past success of Thai humour in TV ads has also created an over-reliance on an increasingly tired format. “The wacky, black Thai humour is unique, but if you repeat it, it will stop surprising, so might lose impact,” Chaipornkaew stresses. “The works from Thailand are getting better in terms of craft and execution, but with more players and more work, the competition is tougher than ever. We need to keep evolving. Particularly smaller brands with a low budget; they need a different strategy and should try something online to create buzz, rather than TVCs they can’t afford.”
Chaipornkaew aims to do something that is new and connects with consumers more frequently. Although the agency went through a tough time after P&G’s regional hub moved from Bangkok to Singapore, it has revived under new management. Recently the firm won clients including Big Cola, Thanachart Bank and Electrolux.
“We’re energised, young and progressive,” he says. “We want to own content and social media with our newly launched Live Creativity hub, create conversations for brands and produce truly provocative Saatchi ideas that Thai people enjoy and share.”
During his time away, Chaipornkaew believes Saatchi & Saatchi Thailand hasn’t exactly been reaping in the awards and is eager to help Saatchi Thailand implement and adopt a process of strategic thinking he learnt at BBH London and Singapore.
“A proper strategic planning process, from brief to creative and execution, needs to focus on clients’ business problems and gain consumer insight first,” he says.
Apart from implementing this process within the agency, Chaipornkaew also believes everyone can be a creative. “Sometimes, a creative idea needs to go through too many levels, from creative to senior creative, and then to ECD,” he explained. “Ideas are no longer fresh after being filtered so many times.”