A whisky advertising campaign featuring Lisa from Blackpink has led to controversy in the pop star’s native Thailand due to its ban on the promotion of alcohol consumption on all media platforms.
While Scotch whiskey brand Chivas Regal’s “I Rise, We Rise” campaign with Lisa has gained global popularity among fans on social media, her Thai fans may have to rethink their supportive posts and reshares.
Under Section 32 of Thailand’s Liquor Control Act (2008), citizens are prohibited from directly or indirectly advertising alcoholic beverages and brands or promoting its consumption in any form.
The Alcohol Beverage Control Act does not allow manufacturers to advertise images or videos of alcoholic beverages, including their packaging. The company’s logo may be used and advertisements may only be launched “with the intention of providing information beneficial to society.”
This means sharing the Blackpink member’s advertisements in Thailand is also considered illegal. While the Thailand-born K-pop star may be clear of any consequences, there is a possibility that Thai fans could face fines or jail time for sharing her Chivas Regal ads. Those who break the law could be fined up to 500,000 baht (approximately $15,000) and/or sentenced to up to one year in prison.
The Office of the Alcohol Control Committee is investigating any offenders who have shared Lisa’s advertisements on all social media platforms.
The controversy has triggered a debate as to whether the law should be repealed. Prapavee Hemata of the Craft Beer Association pointed out the inequality in marketing opportunities faced by small Thai alcohol companies, as compared to big businesses who can bypass the law by running advertisements abroad.
“Alcohol beverage advertising should be doable with proper content, but the law has made it all illegal in the kingdom. This law’s only going to create inequality among locally owned businesses and big businesses,” Hemata said. “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.”
Co-founder of the non-political Progressive Movement Piyabutr Saengkanokkul also pointed out a legal loophole.
“Section 32’s main purpose is to prohibit alcohol advertising, but there’s a loophole which allows [marketing] from outside the Kingdom,” he wrote on Facebook. “Is Blackpink’s Lisa the example of this legal loophole?”