With 75% of Bangkok Underwater, Thai Ad Business Is on Hold

TBWA/Thailand Exec Gives Firsthand Look at State of the Industry

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Chaipranin Visudhipol, chairman of both TBWA/Thailand and the Thai Advertising Association, updates Ad Age on how agencies and marketers are coping with devastating floods in Thailand that are still spreading through Bangkok:

TBWA's Chaipranin Visudhipol
TBWA's Chaipranin Visudhipol

The flooding situation here is now moving south, towards the sea. The area north of Bangkok is gradually improving while the situation in the middle and south of the city is growing increasingly alarming. Now 75% of the city is underwater. However, the inner city seems to hold itself well and may survive the flood.

The Thai economy has been put on hold. Surprisingly, the Stock Exchange of Thailand is managing to hold its ground, currently in the mid 900s.

Year-end and holiday tourists have changed their holiday plans to alternate destinations.

Businesses and marketing activities have currently slowed down with a lot of cancellations.

BOI Fair, the largest convention in the country, has been postponed. New launches and year-end activities are also canceled. TV spots on major TV channels are visibly at a minimum, especially in November, as most October spots were finalized before the impact of the crisis. TV shows and programs are showing reruns, as major studios have also suffered from the flooding. The TV censorship board has problems organizing regular meetings to approve new TV commercials, but the board remains functional.

It will probably take a least a year before the restoration and recovery of the economy starts to have an impact on businesses. Most agencies are faced with the same situation. Each of their clients is facing the impact of the ordeal; directly and indirectly. Agency heads are constantly connected to compare situations and share advice.

TBWA is still functional throughout the crisis. About half of the staff are taking turns coming in to complete their duties with our clients. More than 30 people at TBWA/Thailand were forced out of their homes and even more remain on high alert anticipating the impact of the flooding. The agency is housing some staff who don't have the support of relatives in small hotels and apartments while providing them with necessary amenities. Omnicom will be providing some financial support, which is forthcoming.

All teams are constantly in contact with clients in order to establish personal bonds. TBWA remains active on PTT, the state-owned national energy and gas company; paper-product marketer SCG; Nissan and McDonald's, who continue to push their responsibility toward the agency for launching corporate social responsibility campaigns.

A 60-second spot (below) from PTT offering encouragement to Thais gives some perspective on life right now in Thailand, and how we need to be positive to build tomorrow together.

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