Beer Singha heiress, Chitpas, destroying firm’s push into the mainstream?

Introduction:

In BBC’s television latest report on Thailand, the report started out with a video of news and radio stations in Thailand’s Issan region, broadcasting news about how the people of Bangkok, thinks the people in the country side are stupid and do not deserve to vote. That type of talk, is exactly what Twenty-seven-year old Chitpas Bhirombhakdi, heiress to a $2.6 billion Beer Singha family fortune says.

Chitpas says it openly, on stage in front of 1,000s of Bangkokians, that, quote: “The poor people do not understand democracy……One man one vote does not work.”

The problem for Chitpas, is that Beer Singh is trying to go mainstream, and loose its premium image. In fact, just months ago, Beer Singh and Khao Sod, a newspaper targeted to the grass-roots, particularly grass-roots in Issan, just launched a joint marketing effort. Apart from that Beer Singha, has a global presence, and has hired Publicist, the globe’s best PR firm, to help it go mainstream, away from the premium segment.

Chitpas, most expert say, is hurting Beer Singha, with her anti democracy and violent moves.

(Up-Dated) Chitpas, joinning Suthep protest, was successful in rendering the Yingluck government, not able to function. Thsiland’s army chief, thus took power through a coup, after attempt to broker a deal failed. Suthem then said Prayuth and him, have been plotting the fall of Yingluck together. Yingluck much disappeared from the scene, but recently, lead the staunch far right Chula University, student graduation ceremony. Many of Chula students were out-raged and disagreed with Chitpas selection.

(Up-Dated) Chitpas, reports several news, made an offer, anyone who does not love Thai Royalism, can go to her and ask for money, to leave Thailand. News report some made a counter offer, for Chitpas, to start a fund, available for Thais who wants to leave Thailand, without having to go ask her, but just go an withdraw money from the fund. No answer from Chitpas.

1)      Chipas Brings Bulldozer to Break into Government House

Among the 150,000 protesters that took to the streets in Bangkok over the past weeks to oust the Yingluck led government, 27 year old Chitpas Bhirombhakdi, again, heiress to a $2.6 billion Beer Sing family fortune, stood out. Chitpas family owns Boon Rawd Brewery, the country’s second largest brewery. The rich heiress is member of the Democrat Party and a staunch royalist not unknown as a campaigner.

One of that campaign, in the past, is in calling for police to get tough on Lese Majeste, or offending Thai Royalty, a crime in Thailand, that has out-raged global human rights activist and units, such as the UNHRC.

On December 2, when the protests in front of Government House in Bangkok turned violent, she climbed on a bulldozer amid tear gas grenade showers and rubber bullet fire.

That bulldozer, with Chitpas, in the driver room, went and tore down a concrete barricade, protecting the Government House, from protest entering it. That night, as the bulldozer broke the barrier, fire and explosion, rocked the area throughout the night.

“Someone help us, we are being shot….bullets are flying all around us,” radio a police, behind the broken barrier, screaming on radio, for help.

She also volunteered as a medic to help injured people. Showing that she is not just a celebrity in Thailand’s elite circles, but can also handle tear gas and rubber bullets, as well as ride on a bulldozer that broke down police barricade, she has become a poster child for a Thai elite campaigning to freeze democracy.

That action caused the Yingluck government to issue a warning that, quote: “Some family member of Thailand’s high society should be careful because they are verging on treason activity.”

One foreign press reports:

“But when Ms Chitpas Bhirombhakdi is not on stage cheerleading for a self-styled “people’s revolution”, she is quietly preparing a bid for Parliament. It is a contradiction that highlights the dilemma facing Thailand’s oldest – but by no means most popular – political party, the Democrats, whose lawmakers recently resigned en masse from Parliament to join opposition street protests. The party must soon decide whether to take part in, or boycott, a general election that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has called for Feb 2 – a decision that could determine the fate of the country’s fragile democracy.”

Again, Chitpas family’s Boon Rawd Brewery, is Thailand’s second largest brewery that makes Singha and Leo beer, among other drinks. The rich heiress is member of the Democrat Party and a staunch royalist not unknown as a campaigner. Word is, the family got started, by asking a member of Thai Royalty, to finance the family beer making aspirations, thus once the funds were granted, solidifying the family royalty, to the elite Royalism institution.

But Chitpas, known as a campaigner, has seen her campaign gone sour before.

2)      WHAT’s Thailand’s 365 days of lust?

A few years back, Chitpas decided to help her family Beer Empire with some promotion, with a very sexy beer calendar. That whole event causes a major controversy.

To accept responsibility for distributing the calendars inside the August compound of the Government House, Chitpas resigned as a political appointee at the PM’s secretariat office. In her resignation letter, the heiress explained that she did not intend to distribute them. “I brought along the calendars because some friends want to have them,” she said, as quoted by The Nation.

“Many reporters saw the calendars and wanted them. So, I gave them to everyone. I admit that I did not think that this would turn out to be a big deal. This happened because of my recklessness.” “I’m upset that the incident affected not only my family and me but also many senior people whom I respect. I myself will take full responsibility for this by resigning from position in the PM’s secretariat.”

A press reports:

It is a controversial 2010 calendar featuring nude models whose bodies are painted to cover their assets. The titillating calendar was produced to promote Leo beer, a low-end alcoholic beverage manufactured by Singha Corporation (owner of iconic Thai beer, Singha).

The Leo calendar has attracted uproar from the Thai Public Health Ministry, Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco Consumption Control Committee, the Friends of Women Foundation and feminists. It also led to the resignation of a Singha heiress.

So, what so controversial about a beer calendar featuring photographs of women, whose modesty is virtually covered up by paint? Well, Section 32 of Thailand’s Alcohol Beverage Control Act 2008 prohibits the advertising of alcohol drinks, their brands and trademarks in a way that encourages consumption, directly or indirectly.

Deputy Public Health Minister Manit Nopamornbodee, as reported by Bangkok Post on Thursday, criticised claims by the brewer and the calendar publisher that the calendar was for sale, not for distribution. “It is against the law whether it is for sale or for distribution. The calendar carries a logo of the alcohol product and people understand that message,” he roared.

Outside the Prime Minister’s office in Bangkok on Thursday, the Friends of Women Foundation protested against the distribution of the calendar it labeled “Nude Calendar”, “Sin Calendar” and “Lust Calendar”. Its manager Chadet Chaowilai said many brewers exploited women as sex objects for the sake of their business.

“Such negative tendencies have contributed to the problem of sexual violence against women,” he said, adding that “companies, including Singha, should give up their old marketing strategies and move towards more creative ways to promote their products and adopt a sense of corporate social responsibility”.

Yesterday, the Bangkok Post editorialised: “The argument by the calendar publisher, former supermodel Methinee ‘Lukked’ Kingpayom, that the calendar was made for sale, not for free distribution, is for fools. “The use of girly calendars as a promotional tool for alcoholic beverages has been around long enough that people understand exactly what is going on without any need for spurious explanations.”

The hot, hot, hot Leo calendar brought heat to the Bhirombhakdi family that controls Singha Corporation when a Singha heiress brought them to work – the Government House (Thai Prime Minister’s office). On Wednesday, Chitpas Bhirom-bhakdi, a 23-year-old daughter of the executive vice-president of Singha Corporation, took out two boxes of calendars from the trunk of her BMW and distributed them at the Government House in Bangkok.

Government House officials (including deputy government spokesmen Phumin Leetheerapra-sert and Supachai Jaisamut), MPs, police and journalists (covering the Government House beat) lined up to accept Chitpas’ generosity and within a few minutes, about 200 copies were snapped up.

The next day, to accept responsibility for distributing the calendars inside the August compound of the Government House, Chitpas resigned as a political appointee at the PM’s secretariat office.

In her resignation letter, the heiress explained that she did not intend to distribute them. “I brought along the calendars because some friends want to have them,” she said, as quoted by The Nation.

“Many reporters saw the calendars and wanted them. So, I gave them to everyone. I admit that I did not think that this would turn out to be a big deal. This happened because of my recklessness.” “I’m upset that the incident affected not only my family and me but also many senior people whom I respect. I myself will take full responsibility for this by resigning from position in the PM’s secretariat.”

Chitpas said she would take the incident as a lesson, and hoped that in the future, she would be given another opportunity in politics. Democrat MP for Songkhla Sirichok Sopha, a personal secretary to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, according to the Bangkok Post, said “the stir over the nude calendar had affected the reputation of the government as it was distributed at the Government House”.

He, however, denied the Demo-crat-led coalition government pressured Chitpas to resign, saying she made her own decision. Probably the only good thing coming out from Chitpas’ generosity is the recipients have something to look forward to when they peek at the Leo calendar.

3)      AFP Interview Chitpas:

There is a great deal of information about Chitpas, in the numerous High So oriented magazines in Thailand. Many went to look at her home and fashion style, including countless mindless interview along the “Material Girl” direction. But Chitpas, is long known to like to be involved in politics. Pictures of her, coming out of the current Fascist Suthep protest gathering, is of herself as one of the leader of the movement. Often the picture of Chitpas and Suthep, together, is that of a father and daughter.

AFP Reports:

BANGKOK: She is a poster child for a Thai elite campaigning to freeze democracy. But when Chitpas Bhirombhakdi is not on stage cheerleading for a self-styled “people’s revolution”, she is quietly preparing a bid for parliament.

It is a contradiction that highlights the dilemma facing Thailand’s oldest – but by no means most popular – political party, the Democrats, whose lawmakers recently resigned en masse from parliament to join opposition street protests.

The party must soon decide whether to take part in, or boycott, a general election that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has called for Feb 2 – a decision that could determine the fate of the country’s fragile democracy.

“We don’t know whether there’s going to be a general election or not but as a politician I have to be prepared for it,” Chitpas said.

The Democrat-backed street protest movement has rejected the election, raising concerns that the party may decide to boycott the polls at a key two-day meeting which started yesterday.

Known as the “Singha heiress”, Chitpas’ family is one of the richest in Thailand.

Its Boon Rawd Brewery makes Singha beer, an official sponsor of English Premier League giants Manchester United.

A former Democrat Party spokesman who ran unsuccessfully for a seat in parliament two years ago, the British-educated 27-year-old says her childhood dream is to become prime minister.

Yet each night she takes to the stage to support a movement seeking to overthrow a government which won a landslide election in 2011, and to install an unelected “people’s council” in its place.

The glamorous socialite – who was picked by protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to play a leading role in the street movement – has led marches to besiege state buildings in Bangkok.

She has tended to wounded demonstrators, addressed the international media from the rally stage in near-flawless English and was even spotted riding in a bulldozer brought out to dismantle police barricades.

But she insists the Democrats are not turning their back on elections.

“We’re not taking away democracy.

“We just need some time to reform the country before we can move on to democracy,” she said, explaining that problems such as corruption and vote-buying must be tackled before free and fair elections can be held.

The problem, she added, is that many Thais lack a “true understanding of democracy … especially in the rural areas”.

The Democrats enjoy widespread support among Thailand’s Bangkok-based elite and middle class.

But they have not won an elected majority in about two decades, and critics argue that the only “reforms” they are interested in are those which will end their losing streak.

They face a formidable opponent in Yingluck’s brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, whose overthrow by royalist generals in a coup seven years ago ushered in years of political turmoil and periodic street violence.

The Democrats last took power in 2008 by parliamentary vote after a court stripped Thaksin’s allies of power, angering his “Red Shirt” supporters who launched mass street protests three years ago that ended in a military crackdown that left dozens dead.

Thaksin, who now lives in self-exile in Dubai, is adored by many outside Bangkok for his populist policies that helped to transform the country’s impoverished northern hinterlands.

But the billionaire tycoon-turned-politician is reviled by the elite, Bangkok’s middle class and southerners, who see him as corrupt and a threat to the monarchy.

Pro-Thaksin parties have won every election since 2001, most recently with a landslide victory under Yingluck two years ago.

To solve the country’s problems, “Thailand needs proper education on democracy”, Chitpas said.

“In the past, before all of this happened, very little awareness was made about politics.

“In the parliament, when the bills are being passed and it’s being shown live on TV, people don’t watch it.”

If the Democrats do choose to boycott the February elections, it will likely prolong the crisis.

“Their agenda is to get rid of Thaksin and to set up a regime of their own by bypassing the democratic process,” said Pavin Cha­chaval­pongpun, an associate professor at the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at Japan’s Kyoto University.

But without their participation in elections, Thailand’s political system would face a crisis of legitimacy, he said.

Chitpas said her hope for the future is to see a government last for a full four-year term – a rarity in a country where the military and courts have a history of intervening to remove elected governments.

Even if it is a pro-Thaksin government?

“Well that’s the problem,” she replied. “That’s why we have to fix it before we can move forward.”

4)      Singha appoints Publicis to widen appeal of Thai beer

The Marketing Website Reports:

Thai beer brand Singha has appointed Publicis as its first international agency ahead of a major brand-positioning drive and global expansion.

Singha is to launch an international campaign that will run in countries including the UK, US, Australia and Japan. Publicis Groupe was a French multinational advertising and public relations company, headquartered in Paris, France. Up to July 2013, it was one of the “Big Four” agency companies (alongside WPP, Interpublic and Omnicom). Publicis Groupe S.A. is presided by Maurice Lévy, and its agencies provide digital and traditional advertising, media services and marketing services (SAMS) to national and multinational clients. On 28 July 2013, it was announced that Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group would merge to form Publicis Omnicom Group.

The initial focus of the work will be on the themes of ‘traveller experience’ and the ‘travelling spirit’. The brand is aiming to shift into the mainstream market, rather than competing with niche beer brands. Publicis has been briefed to position Singha, which has been available in the UK since 1976, as a more premium product compared with other Asian beers such as Cobra and Tiger. Singha beer is sold in some supermarkets, including Tesco and Waitrose, in 650ml bottles, but has a stronger presence in the on-trade in bars and restaurants.

The brand is now in advanced talks with retailers about widening its distribution, with plans to roll out its single-serve 330ml bottles in stores for the first time.

  • It should be noted here, that about 30 to 40 countries, have issued warning about traveling to Thailand, because of the Chitpas involved protesting. Has Publicist campaign to link Singh Beer to travel, just been totally destroy by Chitpas?

Conclusion:

There has been a great deal of writings about how a new middle-class is emerging in Thailand, from the used to be poor Thai segment. And what is written about the current crisis in Thailand, at times, is about how this new middle class, is not accepted by the Bangkok middle-class and the high society.

However, to a businessman what can be done, where clearly, this new rising middle class is an important consumer segment.

Beer Singha joint effort with Khao Sod newspaper is perhaps part of the global renowned Publcist PR, to help Singha beer go mainstream.

But what can a company do, with a person such as Chitpas, part of the ownership of the firm, alienates massive numbers of consumer away? Those TV and Radio stations, BBC talks about, mentioning Chitpas, reaching, perhaps, 10s to 1,000s Thais across the country, insulting them as stupid, is the worse type of PR, any company can be faced with.

Will beer Singha succeed in going mainstream? The fact is, the beer market is very competitive, here in Thailand and globally. Already, in Singapore, a major market for Singha beer, the newspaper there, like the Straits Times, is splashing the report on Chitpas, as a major front page story. Chitpas message, reaching the globe, is of a spoiled stupid little rich girl, who is out of control, and beer Singha image is going down with her.

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4 thoughts on “Beer Singha heiress, Chitpas, destroying firm’s push into the mainstream?

  1. I will never buy Beer Singha again, and will make sure I tell all my friends why.

    This woman is a disgusting example of the Thai elite, and how they will stop at nothing to “keep poor Thais” in their place and keep power concentrated in the hands of the rich. She can change her name in a stupid attempt to distance herself from Singha Beer, but it won’t work. I will never buy another product made by Boon Rawd and neither will many of my friends.

    • What makes her more special than the poor Thai? Money! So I guess according to her logic… only those with money are entitled to vote? She is a very disturbed person who is a danger to real peace within Thailand.

    • Many people no longer drink Singha water/beer or Leo beer. Instead, they drink Chang or Tiger.
      Think there’s also tea? products by Boon Rawd Brewary. If only everyone would stop buying their products,…..

  2. I do not drink so much beer but I like Singha. I like because of taste so I will drink again. I think about many people they say very stupid thing with both sides because they are so angry to everything. So I do not agree to try to destroy company that employ so many about comments of one. I have friends they work Boon Rawd at Khon Kaen so I believe it is very stupid thing only hurt regular people. It is sad thing that many people they do not think about this.

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