Thai Culture: Branding Expert says use Siam instead of Thailand

by Pooky, this blog economic journalist

A few days ago, a global level marketing guru gave a speech in Thailand and said Thailand should try to use the word Siam more, because the word Thai just does not cut it anymore, and the word Siam, will conjure up a better image of Thailand.

Well, there is no need to go into why Thailand, as a brand, has really been tarnished. You name it, anything really bad, Thailand had done it. Frome lese majeste to border crisis, from corruption to military in politics-its all here in Thailand in a big way.

And as Abhisit went Thailand boosting in a big way in New York, there is no hiding the fact that it was still a failure to launch Thailand, as most media, just took Thailand and Abhisit to pieces.

A few years ago, the UK did a study of how the Chinese saw the Brits, and the result was that the Chinese saw the Brits as stuffy, conservative and boring. Well the UK, then spent about US$200 million re-branding the Brits image in China alone. All of that is so that Britain products will move better in China. 

Should Thailand do the same? Wharton says never go to the market in a big way, when the product is not ready. But is Thailand that bad? Is there nothing good about Thailand to tell the globe anymore?

Well, things are bad, but then again it is all about positioning. My best friend Stuart, a Brit, says he is in love with Thailand and still is, despite it all. “I like to live on the edge and enjoy adventure,” says Stuart. He says he does not like the level of law and order that invades his privacy at all levels in more advance countries.

“I find Thailand to be really a free country that anything is a go and the un-expected at every corner,” says Stuart.

The name Thailand has an image of modernity with it, added with a strong dose of conservatism. But as that marketing guru told the conference, the word Siam, brings with it lots of exotic, untamed and the un-usual.

Perhaps, Thailand should start accepting what it is-and that is a very wild and crazy country. And stop pretending it is something it is not, and then just run with the truth, re-branding Thailand into what it really is. The market, being people like Stuart, is all over the world.

If anyone can remember way far back, Thai Airways has a very successful advertising campaign, that showed a really knock-them-dead Thai girl walking on the beach-in bikini at sun-set. The response was a mad rush to Thailand from Europe and Japan to Phuket and it got Samui started.

The same with Abhisit. Instead of trying to put on an image of a polite by the rule kid, he should just tell the Thais that he is just a calculated politician who want power and is good at both things. Then run with those realities.

Wharton says products often fail because they do not communicate what they are to the consumers. So Thailand needs to understand what it is about, then communicate about the product, based on realities, to the consumers.

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