“Once the tornado had passed, it began. A man gave his coat to a stranger in need. A woman shared her food with those just passing by. A teenager reunited a dog with its worried owner. These are the things that happen in the wake of any great disaster. People start to perform small acts of kindness. They do what they can to help.”
Since the flooding arrived in Bangkok last October, it has affected 2.9 million people. Hundreds of people have seen themselves resigned to running away to safer places or spending weeks in temporary shelter before they can go back home. As the water itself has not made any discrimination, this tragedy has affected marketers and advertising agencies located in the country too.
Headquarters underwater and homeless employees are part of the situation marketers are facing. The Creative Juice Bangkok’s worldwide chairman, Witawat Jayapani, calculates that advertising spend will decrease at least 40% in the fourth quarter.
However, this slow moving catastrophe is allowing marketers some time to plan their next actions. International brands, large local companies and the general public have joined in a collaborative effort. The general attitude is going toward pitching in, participating in the relief effort.
Unilever has started a project called “Take U Home” to assist residents once flood waters recede. The beer brand Singha has set up an evacuation centre in one of its city centre offices and a rescue team to distribute food and water. The advertising agency TBWA has still been functional throughout the crisis. A 60 second spot from PTT (the state-owned national energy and gas company) offering encouragement to Thais gives some perspective on life right now in Thailand, and how a positive attitude is essential to rebuild what the flooding has obliterated.
But the most remarkable case might be the Coca-Cola’s (its agency is Ogilvy and Mather). Through the Coca Cola Foundation Thailand and partnered with The Thai Red Cross Society, it has initiated a flood relief programme: “Reunite to Relieve and Rebuild Thailand” to help flood affected people. On the one hand they have developed a programme consisting of setting up mobile kitchens to recruit volunteers to cook 6,000 meal boxes per day, every day, to relieve the hunger of flood victims in Bangkok and surrounding areas. On the other hand they are also partnering with Habitat for Humanity Thailand to rebuild communities in the north, Bangkok and surrounding areas once flood waters recede.
Coca cola has released 119 TV spots, 840 radio spots and 3 print ads dedicated to the message “Reunite to Relieve and Rebuild Thailand” aimed at raising funds and recruiting volunteers. If you are interested in this initiative you may want to check its Facebook profile: www.facebook.com/livepositivelythailand