insights, ironies and idiosyncrasies in communication and design

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Saturday, 18 June 2011

Man beats dog.

In spite of the dismal failure of their ‘no-vote’ stance there was unquestionable insight behind the biting political satire of the PAD faux-election campaign. Utilising deeply-rooted, colourful idioms and featuring a menagerie of 'wild beasts' – buffalo, tiger, dog, monitor lizard, crocodile, and monkey – to underscore the growing suspicion that neither government nor opposition could be trusted, the PAD posters succeeded in rousing the populace like never before, but ultimately failed to match the level of execution of a witty Punch cartoon or a emotional Adbusters DIY pop-up and will be forced now to bow to another hound.

And while some marketing points, too – and a couple of seats in the house to boot – must go to the slimy, obnoxious and brutal (but brutally honest) massage parlour tycoon Chuwit for not using a sledgehammer in his paraphernalia, it was Yingluck Shinawatra, somewhat regrettably, that really triumphed – in terms of branding as well as votes.

Much has been written about Yingluck’s campaign and an unprecedented amount in English – mostly concerning poster execution. And while I would obviously side with Baker over Somtow, the poster in question itself is really no great wonder (the reduction of the size of her family name aside) – a well-styled, well-lit, retouched studio shot will always easily outshine the staid graduation head shots and cheap and cheery expressions in wind cheaters we’re used to seeing during election season in Bangkok. Here though truly, it’s the strategy and not the execution that stands out.

Admittedly since the Obama campaign, not has there been this kind of genius at play. Putting up an arguably attractive woman with a name that reads as ‘girl’, ‘lucky’ and ‘love’ – depending on which language you read it in – for election as your PM candidate to a gravely superstitious audience in a world dominated by lazy, corrupt men is the single most cunning political maneuvre in Thailand since probably her brother was last in the country.

As evil as he may be, and as feral and savage, Thaksin has pitted and won with human intelligence over animal instinct, and worryingly has continued to leave many drooling, so in need of a leader, they lap it up.

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