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Phuket Needs a 'Truth in Advertising' Marketing Campaign

Sunday, June 24, 2012
News Anaysis

PHUKET: Michelle Smith's brutal, tragic murder this week has put the attempts by Phuket's expat marketing community to rebrand Phuket in perspective.

Phuketwan's view is that ''branding'' and promoting Phuket without first fixing Phuket's problems is like selling a car with three wheels. That may be an inappropriate metaphor for Thailand, where some vehicles do indeed run reasonably well on three wheels.

Nevertheless, the point remains valid. Fix Phuket's problems first, please, then sell a perfect Phuket to the world. There is no doubt that Phuket still has many attractions and wide appeal.

But bad marketing ideas have proven to be a problem in the past. The suggestion of ''rebranding'' Phuket's monsoon/green/wet season as Summer may have seemed like a stroke of genius at the time.

Right now, with eight deaths from drownings involving tourists on and around Phuket in the space of a month and a day, calling the deadly monsoon season ''Summer'' seems a less than bright idea.

The desire of vested interests to project Phuket as a year-round beach destination has overwhelmed commonsense. With six deaths on Phuket's beaches and two more in a whitewater rafting capsize just off the island in less than five weeks, can Phuket really call itself a year-round beach destination?

We don't think so. To entice people to come to Phuket for a beach holiday between May and October seems to us to be a dangerous exercise in deceit.

There are certainly some considerations for which tourists must take individual responsibility. At the same time, it is beholden on Phuket's tourism authorities and Phuket resort managements to be frank and factual about the dangers.

Phuket's marketing community plays a vital part in making Phuket a success as a tourist destination. But Phuketwan believes the interests of everyone on Phuket would be better served if they took a more realistic approach from now on.

Put that fourth wheel back on. Tune the engine. Then market Phuket with greater ease, knowing that Phuket is a quality product.

How can Phuket's marketing community help? By persuading local officials that ''Truth in Advertising'' is what works in the 21st century, when bad news travels faster than ever before.

Work out campaigns to entice people to Phuket in the monsoon/wet/green season, but don't tell any lies. Let them know it can be a dangerous place to swim at the beach sometimes, but that there are plenty of swimming pools and lots of other activities.

Come down from the Ivory Tower Resort. Don't pretend Phuket doesn't have crime, but do your marketing best to help apply tried and true techniques to help Phuket's police keep the kids out of trouble.

Recognise that Phuket's environment is endangered. Come up with a campaign that the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation can use to develp a successful Reduce, Reuse Recycle project, extending to every corner of Phuket.

Lop Phuket's mountain of garbage down to a small, shapely hill.

Save the beaches from privatisation. Come up with a marketing campaign for a single Phuket Beach Authority.

Develop a plan for letting Thai residents know more about what they and their beloved Phuket need for a proper balance between revenue and quality of life.

Work out how to persuade motorcyclists to give up their vehicles in favor of public transport. (It will seem like a good idea sooner than you think.)

When the fourth wheel is firmly back on the Phuket wagon, you can all sell it to the world, without any qualms about the quality of the product. Fix that Phuket wheel for good, and we'll even help pump up the tyres and get the motor purring.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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How can motorcyklists use public transport which is not available?

Posted by Sherlock on June 24, 2012 12:28

Editor Comment:

Perhaps you missed this bit: (It will seem like a good idea sooner than you think.)

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I paid my first visit to Scotland for 6 years in May. The travel agents were advertising holidays in Thailand, inc Phuket, for summer (sic) season with illustration photos clearly taken in high season. I queried this & they stated (didn't know any better) that this is the info they were provided, but by whom?

Posted by Logic on June 24, 2012 14:32

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Please explain which tourist destination anywhere in the world leads their marketing and advertising with the negatives?!?!

What do you think the Phuket summer should be promoted as?

"Phuket summer of death - come visit - we had less murders last month"

"Phuket - World's deadliest ocean - more rips than 80's jeans"

"Phuket - our tuk-tuk will not only take you home, but also to the cleaners"

As any major tourist destination develops and matures, there will be an ongoing need to evolve and try to keep up with responsible tour practices.

To slam Phuket as a horrible destination that is full of lies is ridiculous.

Of course we all know the old adage that "Bad News Sells" and your other report regarding your own website shows a vested interest in increasing your audience.

I have a feeling that you will not print this comment, as it does not support you. However, it would be refreshing to allow some fresh air into your stale environment.

Phuket is a fantastic place for travellers. Millions visit safely and happily.

Bangkok is on the right track speaking out about change and seem to be taking the correct steps by sending the #2 Police Commander to lead the initiative.

Lighten up on the Phuket bashing.

Posted by Ty on June 24, 2012 14:41

Editor Comment:

Phuket can be promoted successfully on its assets - wonderful weather most days, great for beach walks, dining, shopping, relaxing. We love Phuket. That's why we want it to be improved. It's the blinkered fools who struggle with reality that cause the stupid decision-making, Ty. Try to enlighten yourself, gently. Try to think logically. Try to behave rationally.

I should add that if we were all about reporting Phuket's negatives, we'd be encouraging the scaremongers who turn every incident into a nightmare. Instead, we add factual information and urge readers to take a realistic approach. What you seem to have overlooked, Ty, in your thoughtless rant based on what's in your head, not what we've written, is this:

Any year-round beach destination where six swimmers drown in five weeks has a marketing problem that will not be solved by cover-ups or lies. The sooner Phuket's resorts and marketing community become part of the solution, the better.

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Ed. many Thais and expats are fully aware of the problems that beset Phuket, and these people have been banging their heads against a brick wall for years and years in their efforts to get the authorities to actually do something about the problems, rather than just paying lip-service to them.

You highlighted a long list of problems in Phuket. Bearing in mind the totally dismal track-record of the authorities to tackle these problems, what reason do they have now to act any differently?

Simon

Posted by Simon Luttrell on June 24, 2012 15:32

Editor Comment:

Because the Prime Minister has ordered them to, Simon.

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[quote]
Because the Prime Minister has ordered them to, Simon.
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Well Ed, this island doesn't have a cat-in-hell's chance of sorting out it's problems, if the authorities will only act at the personal request of the PM....

Posted by Simon Luttrell on June 24, 2012 16:40

Editor Comment:

Local authorities looked at what they could possibly do, establishing committees working with the Interior Ministry, and in the end it was agreed that many of the issues were too entrenched, that Bangkok's help would be needed. All this has been reported on PW. It seems odd for readers looking for solutions to now question what happened and why. If the problems are finally sorted - as everyone hopes they will be - a fresh start becomes possible.

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The problem is that the Tourism Authority of Thailand prefer to sugar coat bad news (like during the 2011 floods). Truth in advertising would be a first for Thailand.

Posted by larry on June 24, 2012 16:41

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[quote]
... If the problems are finally sorted ...
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I am sure everyone with a vested interest in Phuket hopes that the problems will be rapidly resolved.

But if such action requires the personal intervention of the PM, what confidence can we have in the local Phuket authorities to meet their responsibilities after the spotlight on Phuket has been removed?

Perhaps Phuket can be designated as a suburb of Bangkok, and our local and ineffective government replaced by the G-men from Bangkok?

Posted by Simon Luttrell on June 24, 2012 20:01

Editor Comment:

I am not sure what you are on about, Simon. The problems are being taken on by Bangkok. This is what most people on Phuket appeared to want, apart from those capitalising on the situation. If you are not happy with Bangkok's involvement, your position on Phuket seems to be a waste of your time. Are you happy with the Phuket ''mafia''? Why do you continue to prattle on? You will never be happy.

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Ed, I thought my comments were quite clear.

I welcome the intervention from Bangkok, but this intervention clearly shows that the island authorities have completely failed to act on the many problems which beset Phuket.

And if that is the case, can we realistically expect local action in the future? Or will we have to phone up Bangkok every time when the local authorities shirk their responsibilities?

Posted by Simon Luttrell on June 25, 2012 07:00

Editor Comment:

Simon, I think it's too early to predict, and certainly too early to complain. The fact is, there has finally been action. All those committee meetings and tourist/expat complaints appear to have achieved intervention from Bangkok, and promises of improvements. Pointless trying to read the tea leaves.


Wednesday January 22, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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