The Tourism Authority of Thailand has acknowledged being behind the widely shared “I Hate Thailand” video recently released, describing it as part of an “unbranded” campaign.
The video, which tells of a foreign visitor who overcomes adversity with the help of Thai kindness, became an online hit for its saccharine story but has been widely reported and embraced as a factual account across the media spectrum.
“There’s been much hype and speculation following the release of the ‘I Hate Thailand’ video, which has been produced based on a research that an ‘unbranding’ advertisement would tend to receive more interest than a conventional branding commercial,” said TAT Governor Thawatchai Arunyik in a news release today.
The video was released by an anonymous YouTube account and bore no indication it was a government-funded production. Almost the moment it appeared, news outlets such as Manager, Matichon, Prachachat and Khaosod reported it as a real news item and urged people to share it.
Share it they did, with many believing the production to be a true story and not marketing. While the stagecraft may have been obvious to some, many took it at face value.
Stories appearing in Khaosod and Matichon reported the video’s story as a factual account.
“Impressed! Farang records himself in ‘I Hate Thailand’ but doesn’t want to leave,” Manager wrote. “A foreigner made a video titled ‘I hate Thailand’ to rant about the bad experiences during his vacation until everything turns around, and he faces some memorable events.”
On Friday Coconuts reported an actor in the video confirming it was a paid production. Suchat Sritama wrote in The Nation on Saturday a tourism authority official describing the video as an “unbranded” viral marketing campaign “as it wanted audiences to follow the video and spread it to friends.” The story didn’t address why TAT resorted to fiction to tell a positive story.
The tourism authority did not return calls seeking comment Friday, a representative on Monday said it would not answer questions about the video.