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Beer makers binge on ads

Beer makers binge on ads

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Whether it is dancing pop stars or plays on national pride, dramatically increasing budgets for beer advertising took Cambodia’s TV sets and public spaces by storm in 2011.

Touch Yin Vannith/ Phnom Penh Post
Tourists walk beneath beer advertisements that were hanging across Pub Street in Siem Reap town in December last year.

Beer advertising surged 164 per cent year-on-year in 2011, according to data from Indochina Research Ltd, making it one of the fastest-growing areas in Cambodian advertising.

Beer companies spent more than US$5 million on advertising in Cambodia in 2011, $1 million more than ads for cars or food products – and insiders say the beer ad figure is set to continue to increase this year.

In 2011 there were also some of Cambodia’s biggest TV advertising campaigns, attempts from the increasing number of market contenders to brand their brews.

“Beer has definitely become an important part of [the advertising industry],” Mean Samol, Cambodia Brewery Ltd’s deputy marketing manager, said yesterday.

“Beer [advertising] is becoming more and more competitive right now.”

Indochina Research data showed that Thailand’s Boon Rawd Trading International Co Ltd, which owns Leo Beer and Singha Beer, was the biggest beer advertising spender at more than $2 million last year.

Cambodia Brewery Ltd spent about $1.1 million on advertising for Anchor Beer, ABC Stout and Tiger Beer last year, the data showed.

Boon Rawd’s Leo Beer was the ninth-biggest advertising spender among companies and products. Mobile service provider Cellcard spent $2.7 million on ads last year, making it the biggest-spending company.

The newest comer, Khmer Brewery Ltd, hit the market hard in the second half of 2011 with about $512,000 spent on its single product, Cambodia Beer.

One insider said the company will most likely spend more than $1 million on airtime alone in 2012.

Chris Ngiau, Khmer Brewery’s commercial manager, said Cambodia Beer’s advertising budget is poised to be one of the biggest in the country in the next two to three years.

“We will be very aggressive in the next few years,” he said yesterday.

Cambodia Beer kicked off a TV ad campaign with strong nationalistic tones when the brewery launched in early November of last year. In the ad, thousands of Cambodian people join together to form the facade of Preah Vihear temple, the site of a violent border conflict between Cambodia and Thailand less than one year earlier.

“As a symbol there’s nothing more patriotic and more nationalistic than Preah Vihear temple. It just so happens that it’s also on the label of the beer. So we thought this would be the best way to capture this pride,” said Peter Sutherland, executive creative director at River Orchid Advertising, which handled Cambodia Beer’s TV campaign.

“The other thing going for us is the name: Cambodia Beer. You can’t get more Cambodian than that.”

Garnering patriotism is no novel concept in Cambodian beer marketing. Angkor Beer has long used the slogan “My County, My Beer”.

Anchor Beer’s TV advertising campaign in 2011 focused largely on “fun and enjoyment” and incorporated a Hollywood director and Korean pop star Rain, Cambodia Brewery’s Mean Samol said.

Even this ad, however, struck a nationalistic chord with Cambodian viewers, as the world-famous singer says “hello” in the Cambodian language, he said.

“The most important part is that he’s an international star but he’s speaking Khmer,” Mean Samol said, adding that other aspects of last year’s campaign focused on environmental protection, which can also translate into Cambodian pride.

Inside sources said the Anchor ad was Cambodia’s most expensive beer commercial in terms of production costs.

Angkor Beer, which spent about $314,000 on beer advertising last year, ran a TV ad campaign that showed Cambodians helping each other, while Leo Beer’s commercial featured a Cambodian hip-hop star playing football.

At more than $17.6 million as of December 2011, spending on beverage advertising outweighed telecommunications ads by about $4.5 million, according to the data.

Advertising in Cambodia was a more than $100-million industry in 2011, growing 34 per cent compared to the year before, data showed.

Beverage ads hit the number one spending spot in 2010.

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