Global viewpoint from Thailand
A view from James Merritt

Global viewpoint from Thailand

Last week was the queen's birthday in Thailand.

Mother’s Day is also celebrated on the same day, as a tribute to Queen Sirikit, the mother of all Thai people. 

The sight of households and public places decked out in lights, decorations and portraits of the queen always prompts me to reflect on what is special about Thailand and why, as a result, it can become a regional powerhouse for the advertising industry.

Specifically, Mother’s Day reminds me of the increase in support I have seen for working mothers, which is reflected in Grant Thornton research that found 38 per cent of senior management roles in Thailand are occupied by women, compared with 20 per cent in the UK. I also see real diversity in the make-up of the Dunnhumby Thailand office, which is 65 per cent female. 

The job isn’t finished, but there has been enough progress for agencies in Thailand to begin realising the power of diverse teams to more effectively reach diverse consumer groups. 

The use of data in Thailand is also unusually sophisticated for an emerging market. The pace of change and diversity within the country mean data plays a central role in understanding consumer behaviour and motivations. Technologies that allow a more sophisticated approach to targeting and measuring advertising and media spend are in huge demand as a result. 

This appetite for data usage is matched by a desire to bring all media elements together to deliver consistent, device-agnostic messaging. That means digital display retargeting could be matched with in-store advertising, for instance, to create holistic conversations. The era of seamless media consumption has truly reached Thailand. 

The excitement generated by sophisticated integrated campaigns and data use is playing a role in business and political leaders recognising the strategic opportunity for Thailand to act as a regional powerhouse. Ensuring that messaging is effective and relevant, whether in downtown Bangkok or up-country Myanmar, will be challenging but will also inspire new levels of creativity. 

All of these factors are set to transform the status of our industry in Thailand. Singapore has traditionally been recognised as one of the world’s most important markets by building on its business and financial roots to also establish itself as a key media centre, and Thailand looks set to evolve similarly. 

With Thai agencies reaping the benefits of diversity and launching sophisticated data-based integrated campaigns, the groundwork has been laid for Thailand to emulate the Singaporean success story.

James Merritt is the managing director, Southeast Asia, at Dunnhumby