In Thailand, the popularity of podcasts – spoken-word audio files released in series format – has grown dramatically in recent years, since they can be made on small budgets to cater to a wide variety of niche interests – everything from entertainment news to true crime to industry-specific technical talk. The biggest boom came during the Covid-19 lockdown, when people who had limited contact with others turned to podcasts for their conversational feel. Since then, the medium has become an increasingly valuable space for advertising and brand marketing.
As with any medium, podcasts have their own strengths and weaknesses to consider. Vero’s Thailand office has recently ventured into incorporating podcasts into campaigns, and with this article we’re sharing how some of those efforts have turned out and what we learned from them, so hopefully we can inspire others to give them a try.
Sponsorship and product placement: Milo Healthier Variants
Milo Healthier Variants are versions of the famous chocolate malt beverage with less sugar than the original (or no sugar at all), while retaining the taste that appeals to kids and containing all the vitamins and protein that Milo is known for. To promote these drinks as healthy options, Vero turned to Rookie Mom, a podcast about modern parenting that mainly targets urban women ages 25-40, for which Milo sponsored an episode that featured subtle mentions of Healthier Variants.
To create the episode, Vero gave a brief to Rookie Mom’s hosts, which they used to create the story and chose how to incorporate Milo’s products. The story was based on the idea that children should be given choices – in the sports they play, hobbies they take up, subjects they study, and the food and drinks they consume. This topic was already common on the channel, but we asked them to emphasize it to associate Milo with the concept of freedom of choice. Due to the hosts’ expertise, the content that Rookie Mom produced was more sophisticated, detailed, and useful than what likely would have come from a parenting influencer.
“Milo wanted to reach a younger, savvier generation of parents, and to do so they sought to try a different format that they’d never used before,” said campaign manager Umaporn Whittaker-Thompson. “We didn’t have solid figures about the returns to expect from advertising through a podcast, so we pitched them the idea based on the rising podcast trend and the medium’s ability to reach a pre-existing target audience that would be tuning in for content they like, with or without the sponsorship. It was somewhat risky, but the risk was mitigated by the relatively low costs. Ultimately the client was happy with the quality of the content that the podcast developed, so we feel the campaign was successful.”
Original podcast content: DELL small business campaign
Dell wanted to promote their products and services designed for small businesses, which they had not emphasized before in Thailand. Their goal was to reach current and prospective entrepreneurs with content that would both excite and inspire them. Dell’s insights showed that this group is keen to learn new things and improve their knowledge to improve their businesses and lives. Podcasts are a natural fit, being the one medium that almost exclusively targets well-educated people who want to learn new things.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, a lot of people lost their jobs or were placed on leave, meaning they had to find new sources of income to get by. This was the genesis of a lot of online businesses, both for new entrepreneurs and companies that had been based on brick-and-mortar stores who underwent digital transformation.
Since people were spending more time online for both business and socializing, there was a larger than usual audience for (preferably free) online content. So rather than sponsor an existing podcast, Vero helped Dell to create their own. The result was “Pursue Your Passion,” a podcast featuring interviews with small business owners whose models depend on being online and using digital technology. Its key concept is to inspire people and share the experiences of others in dealing with day-to-day stresses and challenges – financial, logistical, motivational – to create their own dream jobs.
Vero’s first task was to find a host to build the podcast around, and we found an ideal one in Bo Thanakorn Chinakul, aka Beau, who is well-known as a former radio DJ and an MC for both comedic and serious TV shows. He has a unique, recognizable voice and a talent for creating a fun, lively mood while remaining credible due to his genuine business knowledge. Dell hired a production team to handle the show itself, but Vero made regular visits to the studio to supervise and make sure everything was going as planned.
Beau interviewed several different kinds of businesspersons across the podcast’s four episodes, but certain questions were considered “must-ask”: What is your passion? Did becoming a business owner change your life? What are your challenges and how do you overcome them? What makes you proud? The Vero content team also created scripts, but those were loose and mostly consisted of key topics and talking points, with plenty of room for tangents and improvisation to suit the interview format.
As an example, one episode features an entrepreneur who started selling plants and gardening products online. It’s the kind of business that would have previously existed as a physical shop, but its novelty in the online sphere helped it really take off. The guest spoke not just about their business, but also about the mental and physical health benefits of having plants in one’s home – particularly relevant for those working from home for the first time.
“Dell really understands marketing beyond the numbers,” Project leader Pawares Wongpethkao says. “They care about content that represents their values and saw this podcast as a good starting point to position themselves as a business-friendly tech company in Thailand. The results are subjective, but they’re clearly happy with it because we’re now planning to do a new podcast with them every quarter – with the next one built around the concept of innovation.”
The Future for Podcast Marketing
In Thailand, there are new podcasts turning up daily in every category you can think of: ghost stories, standup comedy, TED-style lectures, business, global news in Thai, current events, celebrity interviews, tips and tricks for success – even sneakers. Some of these require paid subscriptions, but most are free and depend on sponsorships, which creates enormous advertising potential.
“If you see a brand on a podcast you love, then you’re more likely to feel that brand understands and represents you,” Umaporn says. “The brand’s ads should match the content by seeking to entertain or educate, which also helps people to feel more positively about the brand.”
“These days, more and more people want to be content creators, and podcasts are a platform with a low barrier of entry where people can make names for themselves,” Pawares says. “Podcast listeners are selective about who they listen to, and they prefer someone with established qualifications or experience in what they’re talking about. Podcasters are different from social media influencers in this way, but the more quality content there is, the wider the field will become – for both audiences and creators. At least in that respect, the podcasting medium is like TikTok, but with a very different target audience. And as with TikTok, those who join early are more likely to reap the benefits.”