Bold, potentially sea-changing move from the Tourist Authority of Thailand in creating and posting, on YouTube (under a fake name/account), the now-infamous “I Hate Thailand” video. See a rundown of the “controversy” here. That link also includes a link to the video itself.
It’s certainly nothing new for state tourism entities to create video designed to tout the highlights of countries and particular destinations within countries. But there was always a disconnect between these more traditional pieces of rich content and the audience most likely to “act upon” (i.e., view/share) that content: We’re talking young media consumers here. Traditional tourism videos produced to support broad, branded themes were never going to induce young viewers to consume and share.
That’s why the “I Hate Thailand” video is a noteworthy departure. It’s faux-homemade ethos and counter-intuitive theming is aimed squarely at young, Western travelers who, like the subject of this short film, seek exotic-but-ultimately-safe-and-satisfying venues for long-term walkabout. With these consumers, the video’s message appears to have resonated (it has achieved 1.8 million views as of this writing). But the content is clearly a piece of naked propaganda, as well — something young, savvy media consumers will see immediately (more immediately than older, more traditional holiday-makers) and perhaps object to.
It remains to be seen whether subsequent views and shares will focus on the video’s ultimately hopeful, pro-Thai themes, or this piece of elaborate misdirection. Judging from the comments on this video, it’s both — though I was struck by how many viewers chose to stick up for Thailand and offer other stories supporting the pro-Thai theming. They can’t all be plants of TAT. Can they?