Thai beer Singha to target hipsters with storytelling campaign

Singha has brought on Curate Directive to handle social media to make US Millennials more aware of the brand.

REDWOOD CITY, CA: Singha Beer, with the help of Curate Directive, is planning a US-focused social media campaign targeting hipsters early next year.

Curate Directive chief curator and director of digital marketing Romey Louangvilay reached out to Singha’s marketing team this summer after he realized the beer wasn’t making the same impact among his Millennial peers as its rivals.

"When I spoke with my friends about beer, they would mention Asahi Beer or other international beer brands in addition to artisanal brands in New York," said Louangvilay. "I love Singha, so I reached out to the company."

Singha VP of sales and marketing Tim Hogan agreed with Louangvilay about a gap in the market, so they started brainstorming in July and formalized the relationship last week, with Singha bringing on Curate Directive as its social media agency.

Hogan said he hired Curate Directive because Louangvilay understands Thai culture and has experience helping the Tourism Authority of Thailand with online marketing initiatives.

"[Louangvilay] is a Millennial who understands this audience segment and has previously worked on campaigns for Dos Equis, Russian Standard Vodka, Pernod Ricard's BarSmarts, and more, so he definitely understands the spirits and alcohol space," said Hogan.

Japanese brand Asahi Beer tends to go after the Japanese-American segment or larger Asian-American market in the US, Louangvilay said, adding this is a strategy Singha wants to avoid.

"Singha wants to change that and go after American hipsters because they care about authenticity and being associated with a brand that does more than just sell product," he explained." So they want to tap into that market, also given this demographic is getting more popular in Thailand."

Louangvilay noted that when Americans think of Singha, they think of it as a "cool Asian beer," but not as a Thai brand. Therefore, the company will promote its Thai origin as part of the brand’s effort to familiarize hipsters with its beer.

"Although Singha is a huge brand in Thailand and in Southeast Asia, we are a relatively small brand in the United States," Hogan said. "Everyone who enjoys Thai food here in the US recognizes Singha, but not a lot of people know that it comes directly from Thailand, that the brewery was established in 1933, and it is still owned by the same family 82 years later."

To target hipsters, Curate Directive is planning to launch a campaign in late January called Singha Stories, which will feature bartenders, as well as culinary, fashion, and music influencers telling personal stories that involve Singha Beer. The stories, told via blogs and Instagram, will live on a microsite within Singha Beer’s US website.

"You know the game where you start a story and popcorn it off to someone else to finish it?" asked Louangvilay. "Singha Stories is a play off that; we will work with different bartenders and influencers to start the story off."

Its goal is to position Singha as a story-starter within the Hipster community. Eventually, the plan is to encourage consumers, via a call to action on Instagram, to share their own "interesting, PG-13" Singha stories, added Louangvilay.

"Once people begin to share their experiences and maybe a story around Singha, we hope to get more people aware of the brand," said Hogan.

The contract is for one year, "with room to grow," Hogan said. Budget information was not disclosed.

In 2010, Singha brought on Gertrude as its integrated marketing agency to raise awareness of the brand in the US and spearhead global initiatives. The Chicago-based agency handled PR, social media, and traditional advertising.

Hogan was unable to confirm when the relationship ended or if Singha has worked with any other PR firms since.

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