November 27, 2014 by Melissa Ray
Earlier this month, two Thailand-related short films were released, which were widely shared on social media sites and turned out to be covert and subtle marketing campaigns, respectively.
The first was entitled “I hate Thailand”—initially disguised as a YouTube upload by someone named Mila Pattama, but later revealed as a Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)-funded initiative.
The story centres round a British tourist named James, who has his passport and valuables stolen while on holiday in Thailand. However, a pretty Thai girl and various locals come to his aid, providing him with food and shelter, scouring the beach for his lost property, and welcoming him—open-armed—into the community.
James settles into his new life and—by the end of the clip—has spent 2 years in Thailand, describing having almost forgotten about his missing valuables, which were finally retrieved—intact—and the thief identified as…..a monkey.
Responses to the video have been mixed. Some viewers enjoyed the clip, believing it portrays the kindness and hospitality of Thai people; others were critical of its cheesy and unrealistic plot and ending.
I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions on the piece, which has had more than 1.5 million views since its launch and been hailed by the TAT as a “big success”. Only time will tell whether the campaign has its desired effect by drawing tourists back to the country in droves.
The second short film released this month was a piece entitled “My brother”—revealed in its closing seconds to be a long advertisement for the electronics company Brother.
The story focuses on the relationship and enduring love of a brother and sister, who were orphaned during childhood, leaving the boy responsible for caring and providing for his younger sibling.
Without revealing the entire plot, the boy begins competing in Muay Thai fights to earn income to support his younger sister. Years down the line, those bouts have consequences on his health, and their sibling roles are reversed when the sister must act as carer.
Judging from comments on Facebook, responses to the film have been overwhelmingly positive, particularly within the Muay Thai community. Generally, I’m not the type of person to get emotional at films, but I was so moved by the story I was sobbing from around 4 minutes in until after the film’s conclusion.
Though the film works extremely well as a dramatic piece, I wonder if it will be deemed as successful commercially. In terms of YouTube views, its success is vastly inferior to that of the “I hate Thailand” campaign, having notched up less than 240,000 views within a similar timeframe.
Time will tell whether the campaign has success in increasing sales of Brother products; however, the advertisement can certainly be enjoyed (if that’s the right word) as a supreme tearjerker.