Royal critic in exile is surprising new face of Thai gaming eyewear

A Thai gaming eyewear company unveiled its unlikely new spokesperson today: Thai academic and monarchy critic Pavin Chachavalpongpun.

Ophtus not only announced today that its new brand ambassador would be Pavin, who left the country rather than be hauled in by the junta which seized power in 2014, it will hang his face on a billboard this weekend over its Siam Square One shop. 

Stretching the firm’s “eyewear for all” concept into something idealistic, Pavin said he would donate THB100,000 (US$3,100) of his fee to human rights organizations to continue their “important works.” He did not immediately name the organizations.

“[It’s] an eyewear brand that’s not known only to gamers, but for everyone. I interpret ‘everyone’ as anyone in other professions … whether they are a professor, exile or social media user, this eyewear is for you,” Pavin wrote this morning. 

Pavin is famous as a monarchy critic well-versed in the snark and glam of online culture who revels in his identity as an LGBT-culture diva. He went into exile in 2014 and now lives in Japan, and his face appears on T-shirts and merch in the protest movement. In 2020, he further inflamed the status quo by opening the Royalist Marketplace Facebook page, which drew millions of followers. 

He said today that being paid to shill for a product signifies some sort of great cultural moment for the kingdom.

“Being [Ophtus] presenter also means a new change in Thai society – a positive one that’s led by the new generation,” Pavin wrote. “Many years ago I wouldn’t have thought that I would be chosen as a brand ambassador, but because of the changes that happened, this can happen.”


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