Grey's deputy CCO talks about problem solving with creativity

Thai ads are known for their creativity and the market there is very different from its counterpart in Hong Kong. Recently, we talked to Asawin Panichwatana, deputy CCO of GREYnJ United (Thailand), about the industry there and his favourite work.  

Q: How has Thai creativity developed across the region – do you find more of an audience for ads on social media or other formats such as TV?

A: Thai people are one of the heaviest users of social media and they love watching online content more than anything. The audiences can be anywhere but they are surely on social media platforms. Therefore, it makes sense to make moving images — they play a big part and are very popular.

Q: Several Thai ads have broken through globally, winning awards outside of their own country. Why are successful Thai ads often short-form films rather than in the 45-second format, which can be normally found elsewhere in Asia?

A: The work is always rooted in insights to match audiences' behaviours. It is also about how to blend in the products without references to an ad. It's about being subtle! Thai people are fun, simple and want to enjoy life. We work in every format, but Thais love watching entertaining films. Fortunately, our sense of humour is also simple enough for everyone around the world to understand, and that's why our works are often appreciated even outside of our own borders. It works the other way around too. Global work that is great and easy to 'get or understand' tends to do well in Thailand.

Q: Can you talk about GREYnJ United's work during the pandemic? For example, what are your insights for Docovidtary, and the difficulties of producing ads amid the pandemic?

It's tough everywhere and same here. That's why we need to think carefully about what to say and how should we produce ads and follow lockdown regulations at the same time.

We have to be quick as the situation and rules changed daily — being agile in these times is essential. Tough times don't necessarily mean you have to make the work tough. You have to find the best way forward to try and achieve your goals and to see how the messaging can best reflect brand values and brand purposes. It doesn't always need to be something sad (everyone's sad already). That's why Docovidtary for Kasikornbank, is not sad. It’s lighthearted with a bit of respectful fun, so it stands out. It consists of real stories in post-lockdown life, one that the audience can relate to, with a Thai twist to cheer us all up.

Docovidtary isdocumentary showcasing what life is like in the Thai community as the lockdown regulations are lifted and how Thai people are getting through these difficult times together, with the most straightforward yet powerful concept of giving.

Q: Can you tell us about your own favourite work that you have done recently. For example, the Kulov Vodka ad as there are always restrictions on advertising alcohol? How did you work your way around this yet still get the message out to your audience?

Sometimes, it's good to have many restrictions — it makes you think out of the box to come up with a solution that works. It makes you focus on ways to overcome the obstacles in front of you. Having so many "cannots" forces you to find what you "can". And when you find it, it's always interesting. 

6 Takes Of Drama has a lot of "cannots" around it. Finally, we found a simple message: six times distillation makes for a better quality vodka (Kulov is distilled six times and is known as a premium vodka), and it's the same for posting anything on social media. If you distill or filter your thoughts rather than just put up something in anger, you can have a better outcome. It is important to add beautiful storytelling that ties in with the product.