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!