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The whiskey giant, Chivas Regal, announced that Lalisa “Lisa” Manoban, a member of the K-pop group Blackpink, will become its new brand ambassador. This move makes Lisa the very first female face of the brand in Asia.
Chivas Regal made the announcement with an accompanying one minute-long-video of the Thai-born artist’s path to success in a new campaign titled, “I Rise, We rise.”
“There were no shortcuts to get where I am,” Lisa says in the campaign video. “But success means nothing, not one thing, unless we share it.”
But many within the alcohol industry and the greater public feel that Lisa’s position as ambassador of a whiskey company represents hypocrisy regarding Thailand’s alcohol promotion laws.
Thailand’s Section 32 of the 2008 Alcohol Beverage Control Act prohibits any person from conducting an advertisement, displaying name, symbol, or trademark of alcoholic beverages in Thailand.
Yet critics say that given Lisa’s immense celebrity status, she most likely won’t have to pay fines for promoting alcohol.
Prapavee Hemata, a core member of the Craft Beer Association and alcohol enthusiast, told Thai Enquirer that alcohol advertising shouldn’t be illegal.
“Alcohol beverage advertising should be doable with proper content, but the law has made it all illegal in the kingdom,” Prapavee said. “This law’s only going to create inequality among locally owned businesses and big businesses.”
Prapavee said that the law gives priority to big businesses in the alcoholic beverage market as they have more finances to promote their brand outside of the country. But the laws leave little room for small Thai independent alcohol companies to market their products without facing the risks of legal penalties.
“Big businesses can hire advertising agencies outside Thailand to legally advertise their products, but if small entrepreneurs do the same in the kingdom, it’s illegal,” Prapavee said.
On social media, thousands also noticed the inequality
“I’m disappointed and disagree that Lisa, a new generation, has advertised liquor. But Lisa’s advertisement was produced in Korea, not Thailand. Therefore, she’s not under Thailand’s law,” one Facebook user said.
“This law should be repealed, so that more local entrepreneurs can step into the industry,” another user wrote.
Some prominent politicians also weighed in on the controversy.
Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, co-founder of the Progressive Movement, wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday that the case indicates a troubling legal loophole.
“Section 32’s main purpose is to prohibit alcohol advertising, but there’s a loophole which allows [marketing] from outside the kingdom,” Piyabut wrote.
“Is Blankpink’s Lisa the example of this legal loophole?”