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How To Respectfully Participate In Thailand’s Songkran As A Western Brand

Thailand’s Songkran Festival, or Water Festival, is considered Thai New Year and is a highly anticipated event symbolizing purification, renewal, and celebration. During Songkran, families unite for traditional customs like pouring scented water on Buddha statues and seeking blessings from elders, while vibrant street parties and water fights highlight the festival’s community spirit and often draw participation from travelers.

The joyful atmosphere of Songkran presents a golden opportunity for Western brands to engage with Thai consumers and stand out in the market. Here are some tips and insights for Western brands on how they can launch resonant Songkran campaigns.

Planning your Songkran campaign

When Western brands seek to associate with Songkran, they may face several pitfalls and challenges, primarily related to cultural understanding and sensitivity. Here are some things you should carefully research, study, and plan before starting your PR campaigns.

By being aware of these pitfalls and challenges, Western brands can take proactive steps to ensure that their Songkran campaigns are respectful, culturally sensitive, and ultimately successful in engaging with Thai consumers.

Cultural Awareness: Brands risk alienating Thai consumers and missing their messaging if they lack cultural understanding.

Stereotypes and Generalizations: Presenting Songkran solely as a party or water fight can be seen as disrespectful to Thai cultural heritage and display a superficial understanding of Thailand.

Localization: Brands must tailor their approaches to suit Thai preferences, rather than utilizing existing campaigns.

3 steps to crafting an effective Songkran campaign

Once you’ve done your due diligence, these are the three steps for creating successful strategic communications and campaigns during Songkran.

First step: Select an optimal location

You must meticulously assess which atmosphere aligns best with your campaign objectives and target audience.

In Bangkok, Siam Square stands out as the quintessential choice for brands hosting events, pop-ups, or other physical campaigns during Songkran, transforming into a dynamic playground for various groups of people each year, offering a diverse and bustling vibe. Western brands  seeking to connect with party lovers can look to Khao San Road and Silom Road as prime destinations. 

Thailand also boasts several other popular destinations that attract international travelers, including Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya, and Khon Kaen. Each location offers a unique theme and highlight of the year, so brands need to ensure they are aware of these and plan accordingly.

Second step: Partner with local stakeholders for maximum impact

This year’s Songkran festival is particularly significant, as the festival has been recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage event by UNESCO. The Thai government is promoting nationwide celebrations known as the Maha Songkran World Water Festival 2024, aimed at highlighting and preserving Thai traditions across the nation, especially in Bangkok.

Given the special nature of this year’s Songkran, Western brands have a unique opportunity to collaborate with the Thai government bodies or important public sectors of Thai tourism like Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to launch impactful PR campaigns during the 21-day celebration period.

Third step: Highlight experiential marketing, community engagement, and CSR efforts

Building a strong relationship with potential customers is an extremely valuable tool for brands hoping to make a splash in Thailand and differentiate themselves from competitors. Here are some examples of Western brands’ 2023 Songkran campaigns that were effective and delivered in the Thai market. 

Photo credit: Amarin TV

During last year’s Songkran festival, Dyson, a renowned home appliance brand, set up ‘Dyson Supersonic’ hair dryer booths in Siam Square. Positioned as an ‘emergency rescue’ for those wanting to quickly dry and style their hair after enjoying the water fights, this buzzy campaign received a very positive response and praise from not just on-site participants, but across social media platforms and throughout the media.

Photo credit: GoPro

Another great campaign comes from GoPro, who worked with TAT to encourage both local and international influencers to create and share memorable videos from their participation in Chiang Mai’s Songkran festival. Championing the waterproof capabilities of GoPro cameras, the campaign effectively showcased the product’s capacity while highlighting Chiang Mai’s vibrant Songkran festival to an international audience.

The success of these campaigns lies in the way brands adeptly tapped into the true pain points of Thai consumers. While Dyson capitalised on the need for people to dry off quickly  after experiencing a Songkran water fight, GoPro embraced the allure of capturing Songkran memories without worrying about water damage. Importantly, these campaigns avoided being overly sales-driven, ensuring participants felt genuinely engaged rather than pressured to make purchases. This went a long way in fostering positive consumer sentiment, local touch points, and brand love.

Western brands can develop impactful Songkran campaigns by ensuring they fully understand the importance and nuances of Songkran and finding ways to engage with consumers in an authentic way. By doing this, Western brands can foster respectful and culturally sensitive engagement, ultimately leading to successful campaigns.

If you need a strong communications strategy to navigate festive seasons all year round, reach out to us at, and we’ll take your brand to the next level, together!

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