Helping Abandoned Buildings Shape Up


The skyline of Bangkok bristles with the skeletons of unfinished buildings.  These ghostly structures, frozen in various states of incompletion, number in the hundreds and most are a result of the Asian economic crisis on 1997-8.  Recently, though, I’ve noticed that some of these buildings are being incorporated into advertising schemes.


One that caught my eye was this pair of buildings that appeared to be on a diet.  Viewable from the expressway, I had passed the buildings several times but wanted to get a better shot.  Sunday morning, I set out early and drove around that area of the city, somewhere between Khlong Toei and Rama III, to see if I could get a clear view and a good picture.  It took about an hour to narrow down the location, but finally I eventually found a great view from the front gates of the Colgate-Palmolive complex right where Ratchadapisek Road parallels the Mahanakorn Expressway.  Veering left onto a frontage road that continues under the expressway before turning right towards the railway tracks, I turned on the emergency blinkers, pulled to the shoulder of the road, and hopped out to take a picture.


The advertising is for Naturegift, a Thai company that makes powdered beverages (coffee, cocoa, and ginger) as well as capsules that claim to provide various health benefits.  The message reads something to the effect of “A Mission Well-Suited for Naturegift.”  The buildings’ columns have been cleverly altered with the use of black paint and temporary set pieces to make it look like they curve in at the buildings’ “waists” – giving the buildings more pleasing hourglass shaped figures.  The “belts” on the buildings are also temporary set pieces.  The use of black and red for the two belts implies that Naturegift is good for men and women.

In addition to making good use of abandoned buildings, Thai advertising has a knack for being quite clever.  In this 30-second ad for Naturegift, which ran for many months before movies at cinemas here in Thailand, we see the promise that Naturegift will give you confidence.  The inside joke from a cultural angle is that the women depicted here, while all being skinny, don’t have what would be considered typical beauty in a Thai sense.  But they are most definitely confident!


0 thoughts on “Helping Abandoned Buildings Shape Up

  1. Interesting. That’s one way of putting unfinished buildings to good use. The ad was interesting to watch too. Wouldn’t have guessed they were for coffee until they showed the products. ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. hahaha what a clever use for an abandoned building! it’s sad that the buildings just stand partially completed though… are there no plans to go back and finish at least some of them?

  3. @Inciteful – Oh, gosh, I should do a whole other entry about Thai beauty standards.  Like the Japanese, whiteness is very much the prevailing standard.  Yes, let me add that to my to-write list.@kunhuo42 – Sadly, there are no plans.  Unlike some other countries in SE Asia (Indonesia, for one) that require builders to pay into a completion insurance fund, there are no protections here in Thailand.  Builders go bankrupt and quit development.  There are few incentives for other developers to take over the property because they take on any debts and back taxes, plus have a half-finished building that may or may not meet their expectations.  There is one building I can think about near Surasak station that just recently has been picked up (after 13 years) by a new developer.  They are making a few modifications to the front, 5-story part of the building.  The rest of it is being completed as-is.  Another property, though, near the Erawan Hotel, has gone through three owners in more than a dozen years, with the first three stories or so being razed and rebuilt each time.  It has stalled once again and is just a foundation with a six-story elevator shaft sticking out of it.@Ricardo98 – But of course.  Swing your hips and your project confidence.@Lakakalo – There are so many adds like that here in Thailand – they catch your attention but you have no idea what, exactly, they are selling until the very end.@ClimbUpTreesToLookForFish – Thai firms do pretty well in Adfest and Spikes Asia, two of the major award festivals for the advertising industy in Asia.@The_Eyes_Of_A_Painter – Because of a few scheduling matters, I’ve not been doing anything particularly adventurous in home cooking and have been eating at places on which I’ve previously reported.  We are heading to Hong Kong for a few days, though, later this week so perhaps I can get some good food shots there.@Fatcat723 – So true.@CurryPuffy – I’m sorry, I think you made a spelling mistake.  “Guys” is spelled incorrectly.  LOL

  4. @christao408 – Heheh… yeah, we get to see quite a few ads that do that. A while back, right before the last Indiana Jones came out, Airtel a cellphone service proveder, ran an ad that started out looking like a trailer for the movie. And… er… I believe the whole obsession over white-complexion is common to Asia in general. And not just women, but men as well. (Posted a little rant on it, too.)

  5. @everyday_yogi –  There is nothing more beautiful than a half-Thai, half-Western child who has the eyes and dark hair from the Thai side but the light skin from the Western side. At least, that’s the thinking predominated by the media here in Thailand.@Lakakalo –  There seem to be some countries where it is perhaps less extreme, but in general the whiter=better thought is quite common. Your rant was well-placed, although I wouldn’t entirely agree with your concluding sentence. I think it lies in a realm where we’re all becoming more susceptible to an ever-widening beauty myth that is spread by the media and advertising.

  6. @christao408 – I figured it to be an ever-whitening beauty myth. ๐Ÿ˜› It’s sad, but I think it’s kinda’ funny that in one part of the world, people spend just as much time & money getting tanned as people in another part of the world do for a lighter complexion.

  7. It’s too bad that these buildings can’t be reused for public housing. I know it has to be fixed up after being abandoned. I would not want to date any of those women… you can almost hear the first one scream at the bf “I want sex now!”

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