Now following: Pornsak

Pornsak Prajakwit, or better known as Pornsak, is one of Singapore’s most visible entertainers and hosts. Originally from Thailand, the star made a home and a name for himself in Singapore, rising to popularity through shows such as Channel 8’s FOOD SOURCE, and his own series on Michelle Chong's YouTube channel called Court Porn. He is also the founder of his own chain of Thai restaurants called PORN’S

Speaking fluent Mandarin, English and Thai, the Prajakwit carved a niche for himself in the industry, allowing him to host a slew of bilingual and multi-cultural events. This has also led him to work with brands such as Mama Lemon, Panasonic, 3M, OSIM, American Express and OCBC Singapore, some of which he is a brand ambassador for. His relationship with Mama Lemon for example, has been around since 2011.

In this edition of Now following, Prajakwit sits down with Marketing to share more about his journey as an entertainer and his transition into the online space as both an influencer and business owner. He is currently managed by Left Profile.

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Marketing: As a mainstay in the local entertainment scene, how has social media changed the game for you?

I think a focus right now would be in being seen in as many different mediums as possible. In the past it was mainly about managing your image on television, radio or print. But now, having an online presence is very very important.

Everyone has a mobile phone today and the viewing habits of audiences are now different. In the past, people would go home at 8:00pm sharp to catch a drama or variety television show being shown at that time slot – but how many of us do that now?

As consumers, we just get the content we want off our mobile phones, at a time which is most convenient for us. As such it is important to be seen online, because I don’t think a lot of people are waiting in front of the television just to watch you.

Marketing: What do you do to strike a connection with your followers?

I set a target for myself to have a post on social media every day, so unless something really terrible happens to me, you will see me post something online at least once a day. I guess what I want to do is constantly update my followers; I want to excite them on a daily basis. I want to get them information that they would like to know and ensure they can always get it on my Instagram page. These are the few things I am trying to do to grow my following, hopefully whatever I share online is beneficial to my followers.

Marketing: What has the engagement been like so far?

I would say the posts which get a lot of likes online are those which are a little more personal – the ones with me just waking up, hair not done, no makeup. I have no idea why (laughs) because those are just random photos. These posts aren't even calculated, they’re just there. But the likes are amazing.

Marketing: How important is social media following today in the eyes of marketers?

Thanks to social media, businesses now actually need to change the way they think about influence.

In the past, brands had control over what they said in their ads but when it comes to people connecting on a peer-to-peer level, which is what we are doing now on a daily basis, I think brands have lost control over what they want to say or do. So the new challenge is learning to influence from a distance. I guess that is where we as influencers come in, we are the bridge that bridges this distance.

Marketing: What are some of the challenges of being a celebrity influencer?

I think the relationship I have with some advertisers now, where I am engaged for an Instagram post, can be quite a one-off relationship.

It's not like endorsing a product which is more long term, so it feels quite touch and go. As such I am unsure if the message that clients want to put across will be as effective. I do think that the message clients want to convey to consumers need to be put across constantly. It can't just be a one-time thing where I go "This is great, use it!" and that's it.

Marketing: How then do you deal with difficult clients?

I always push it to my management agency Left Profile (laughs).

Marketing: What should clients take note of when it comes to working with celebrity influencers?

The most powerful reason to buy something is actually someone else’s advocacy. I think that is very vital. Even with the coolest banner ad or the hottest viral video which may win recognition for a brand, if the product gets a mixed (or even worst – no reviews) online, the chances of purchase won’t be really high for consumers.

Marketing: How involved do you like to be when it comes to working with brands? 

I must first believe in the brand and really know what I am endorsing. Because of this practice I have rejected a few brand and assignments. It’s not that these products or services aren’t good, but personally I would like to post about something I have used before or believe in. I want to be responsible for what I am pushing on my social media or what I am endorsing.

To be closer to the brand, I want to get to know the faces behind it, be it the marketing team or the people on ground.

Relationship building takes time and I think that is very important to get to know who you are working with and what they like. Over the years, I have become friends with my clients.

I'm unsure if it is as clear to my followers but for endorsement deals, I am often seen at road shows. You will see me being more associated with the brand itself and having more interaction with the brand. For example, for Mama Lemon, it’s always positioned as “me and my Mama Lemon [product]” or “Mama Lemon [as a brand] and I”. So the links are close to the products I am endorsing.

However, for one-time posts, for example on Instagram, it would be more focused on messaging which encourages people to try it. There’s also more obvious call to actions like discount codes for a limited time only. I think there is a clear difference.

Marketing: How much creative control do you like to have over your brand engagements?

It depends on the client. While I love to be as involved as possible, sometimes some clients have very specific messages they want to tell their consumers. They could just prefer the “hard-sell” model of me being pictured with their product, next to my face, and the message that being put across goes along the lines of "Buy now", "For limited time only", "Don't lose this great opportunity".

Recently, I worked with American Express and the way they handled their marketing campaign was quite unique and refreshing. They actually asked me for a childhood memory I had with my mother and they built an entire campaign around that memory and the story. I really felt for the story I shared, so when I was sharing this campaign with others, I got more passionate and it feels less like a marketing or sales pitch and more about a memory which I hold close to my heart.

Marketing: What is next for you?

I am starting my own skincare line together with a friend, which will primarily have an online presence. The product ingredients were sourced in Italy and France and the formula was created by a group of scientists. We even bottled everything in a halal facility because we are hoping to enter the Dubai market one day as well. This is something that is very exciting for me at this point in time because I always wanted to do something online after starting my line of Thai restaurants.

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