I've been flicking through a new Bangkok business magazine called Director (I know, it's a pretty rock 'n' roll life I lead) and came across a piece about Diageo, and how they're dealing with restrictions on alcohol marketing in Thailand. The most delicious part of the rules is that advertisers can't actually refer to the products, only the brand. So you can't show a bottle of Johnnie Walker (Diageo's big seller in the region) or even suggest that Johnnie Walker might be something that someone might want to drink. All you can show is the quintessence of JohnnieWalkerness, and quietly hope that someone will be encouraged to buy some whisky on the back of it.
Zanita Kajiji, Diageo's VP (Marketing), says:
All that's left is to focus on the brand... About the positive messages associated with that brand. That makes it easier for someone else to say exactly the same thing, and you then can't differentiate the product for the consumer.
Uh... I would have thought the exact opposite was true. How many consumers can really tell Johnnie Walker Red Label apart from any other big-selling Scotch (Bell's, Teacher's, 100 Pipers) in a blind tasting? Especially when it's consumed, as is usually the case in Thailand, with copious amounts of ice, soda and often slices of lime? Surely all that distinguishes them is the brand, so the marketing restrictions actually make things easier, by doing away with the mundane reality of product, that so often gets in the way of a good ad. I'll let someone else explain: