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Embracing E-commerce and Busting Sex Myths: How Yell Advertising Became the Masters of Thai Brand Breakthroughs
Advertising Agency
Bangkok, Thailand
For Yell Advertising’s Chutikarn Ounhachoke and Narinee Boonsanan, helping clients disrupt market leaders in Thailand is second nature. Here, they tell LBB just how they do it

If you’re a brand looking to establish yourself as a market leader in Thailand, your first and last stop is Yell Advertising. Over the past few years, the independent agency has made a habit out of taking their clients to leading positions in their product categories - and then keeping them there. 

Take their work with the condom brand ONETOUCH, where their now long-running campaign ‘The Birds and the Bees’ has quite literally defied the laws of advertising. In the face of YouTube’s ban on advertising ‘birth control or fertility products’, a content series from Yell harnessed organic viewers to amass two and a half million views. This helped put ONETOUCH right up alongside global brands such as Durex despite their more limited size. 

It’s the same story with clients including Lazada Global (a retail brand) and Pruksa (a property agency). Given Yell’s success across vastly different product categories, LBB set out to discover how the agency made it all happen. 

To find out, we spoke with Yell’s account supervisors Chutikarn Ounhachoke and Narinee Boonsanan…

LBB> You guys have mentioned that, “instead of just focusing on advertising work, Yell aims to create the best solution through communication for clients”. What do you mean by that?

Chutikarn> Well, what do you think is the key to getting someone to understand what you think or feel? It’s communication, isn't it? Many people end up getting stuck on problems just because they don't know where to start, in what way they should raise an issue, or who they should speak to. Communication is the ultimate key to everything if it happens at the right place, at the right time, and in the right way.

The phrase ‘the best solution through communication’ reflects how we work. We have teams that understand how to deliver effective communication with the right message, and who know just the right tools to deliver it. 

Narinee> I agree, and I see that as our mission - not just collectively but individually, too. We don’t simply exist to advertise products, but to think of other ways to communicate - who we should talk to, what we want to convey, or which emotions we should elicit. 

Humans are complex beings, and each one of us is different. That's why we try different ways to tailor our communication to reach each group of people. There’s no question that it helps make our work more effective. 

LBB> Yell is an independent agency - do you think that’s helpful when it comes to your creative culture, and the communication strategies you craft for clients?

Narinee> Being an independent agency affords us more freedom. We don't have frameworks or rules to play by, so we can flexibly adjust our workflow to get things done faster. As a result, we are free to adjust our processes to the pace of the digital world.

This also affects the way we work with our partners. We don't see them as clients who come to us with an order, but as partners who work together. And we don’t offer identikit solutions - our campaigns and ideas are always tailor-made. 

Chutikarn> Yes - while our structure as a company is not complex, our independence does afford us a unique working culture which is very flexible. 

That being said, there is one thing we always stick to when it comes to creating a piece of work - we have to think from 'the insight'. So, we come up with the strategy part first, then build the creative part on top of that. 

That's why we call our way of working 'Strategically Creative'. We don't cling to the tradition of advertising, nor do we care about its traditional standard. I’m confident that our clients would back me up on that! 

LBB> Chutikarn, can you tell us how the campaign ‘The Birds and The Bees 2.0’ for ONETOUCH became so successful?

Chutikarn> In truth, it depends on many factors. Everyone involved played an important part in the project. 

Our first ‘The Birds and the Bees’ campaign compared the way in which adults dance around the topics of sex education when they have to explain it to kids, which is relevant in the context of Thai culture where sex education is so limited. So, we came up with the original idea of reaching out to those kids and explaining these important matters ourselves!

In the campaign 'The Birds and The Bees 2.0’, we launched a content library for the brand by posting short videos on ONETOUCH's Youtube channel. We spent absolutely nothing on ads because of Thailand’s birth control policy which prohibits advertising in this category. But despite that we were able to generate the result of over two and a half million organic views with 108,000 watching hours in total, 1,589 positive comments, and a 5,300% increase in subscriptions.

In line with our policy of focusing on insights, our team found that Thai teens are eager to learn about sex but lack understanding, and that they tend to search for information on Youtube rather than Google. This led us to the idea and the execution that matched the target needs. And, I have to say, it was as if Kwang Deerlong was born to be the icon of the campaign and I'd like to thank her for giving her best for this project!

And, of course, I can't talk about the project's success without thanking our client for trusting us to make this campaign happen. I'm so happy that this project is being recognised and awarded, and I'm so thankful for all of the team who were involved.

Above: An image breaking down the impact of the Birds and the Bees 2.0 campaign. You can also watch a video breaking down the campaign here

LBB> And Narinee, how has your communications strategy helped Pruksa maintain its position as the number one real estate brand in Thailand over your time working with them?

Narinee> I think it's the way we work. We are always looking for new opportunities, improving ourselves, and keeping a tab on social trends to find insights to understand consumers' behaviours.

A good example is a promotional campaign which we took care of. The objective was to get consumers to buy an estate worth a million dollars. It was the beginning of the pandemic lockdown, and people started to work from home and were insecure about the national economic situation. Nonetheless, our objective was to drive sales. We came up with the idea of doing live online selling, instead of a traditional event where people would need to attend a sales gallery to benefit from offers. 

Ultimately, the key to the success of this campaign was our understanding of consumers' behaviour. During that time, people were under a lot of stress and tended to look for humorous content. So, we chose Tuk and Ball, well-known comedians and influencers, as our salespersons who add joy to our live online sales. As a result, we exceeded the original sales goal. 

Above: A collection of stills from Yell's campaigns with Pruksa.

LBB> As members of the client service team, you guys must come under a lot of pressure day-to-day. How do you deal with that pressure whilst still delivering results?

Chutikarn> I think it's the nature of the job. Client service is positioned to be the front of an agency and will always require some mental strength. But since I chose to be here, there have been two policies that keep me focused.

1. Let it be: Whatever happens, happens - our task is to find a way to cope with it. Client service's responsibility is to make a decision based on our discretion. There is nothing totally right or wrong. We have to make sure we know what's best for the team and the client. I'd go for it if I think it's the best solution for the problem, and I won't think about it much once it is decided. And when it's time to rest, I rest. When it's time to sleep, I sleep without worries. 

2. Understand each other: Most of the time, I feel under pressure when working on a difficult project which doesn’t have a clear answer. Mostly the pressure comes from clients who didn't completely see eye to eye with us, or sometimes with unrealistic requirements that we have to realise.

But if we try to be in their shoes and see that it's their job, too. They are working people with responsibilities to fulfil, goals to achieve, and they are looking for an agency that can solve their problems. Understanding this, we will see the same goal as them, and we will find ways to achieve it together. There will be no pressure because we are on the same team.

Narinee> If I'm being honest, I never imagined that I would end up working in a client service team! That’s because I grew up being told about how stressful the job is - which is true. 

Many people would say positive thinking helps, but it doesn't work like that. Sometimes you try a hundred ways to stay positive, but you still can't get the matter out of your head.

The easiest way for me is to simply stop and take a rest. No matter how tight the deadline is, I'll take a break if I feel like I can't take it anymore. Even a 10-15 minute break will do. Maybe find something else to do for a small while, entertain myself, take a deep breath, then come back to work. There’s no doubt this makes me more successful, and even faster at times. 

LBB> If you had to give one piece of advice to a new person working with the client services team, what would it be and why?

Chutikarn> For me, it would be to stay calm. There are three types of problems - the one that can be fixed right away, the one that can't be fixed, and the one that takes time to fix.

Apart from our own attitude, I honestly believe that nothing can save us and get us through life. So, take problems as a friend who got something you can learn from. If you can fix it, be proud. If you can't, let it go. If it's hard, give yourself the time to learn and the chance to try. The journey may not be smooth and pretty, but one day you'll grow.

Narinee> On a similar note, I would advise people to embrace their mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes in life, myself included! But let it become lessons. Because the more experiences you have, the better you can handle unexpected problems, and one day you'll be proud of yourself for making those mistakes.

LBB> Finally, the team at Yell is incredibly successful at using humour in your communications. Is that something you intentionally go for, and why do you think a great sense of humour is such a powerful part of a communications strategy?

Narinee> It seems like we wake up to handle all sorts of stress these days, be it Covid-19, an economic crisis, or political problems. So I think we could use a bit of humour in our everyday context as a getaway. Sometimes a funny video you come across on your feed makes your day. Still, a sense of humour is not suitable for every campaign. So, we have to find the balance and use it in the right way. 

Chutikarn> Yes, humour is a very useful tool for helping our clients achieve their targets. 

Nowadays, the world seems to spin around the burdens on our shoulders - inflation, air pollution, climate change, war, and so on. People probably have enough seriousness from the news and want to take a break. So when something gives them a good laugh, it becomes interesting and noteworthy. 

Our sense of humour is a part of human nature. When you laugh it stimulates good hormones, and it makes you happy. We try to achieve that in our work by making something fun and easy to understand. Crucially, it also makes people want to try a product or know more about a brand.

However, the mood and tone of the work have to fit with the product, the brand's identity and not make fun of inappropriate situations or make someone feel bad. Eventually, everything goes back to the core - ‘the best solution through communication’.

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