Alcohol advertising ban threatens Johnnie Walker Classic

BANGKOK (The Nation): Riche Monde, distributor of Johnnie Walker whiskey, has urged the government to decide within two weeks whether it can use the logo and brand to promote the upcoming Johnnie Walker Classic golf event at Blue Canyon Country Club in Thalang.

If the government bans the use of the logo and brand, as well as prohibits the company from using the brand in the name of the tournament, the alcohol company is ready to move the event to either South Korea or South Africa, Riche Monde President Vorathep Rangchaikul said yesterday

The Johnnie Walker Classic has been thrown into jeopardy by government legislation banning alcohol advertising and sponsorship. The ban is set to take effect December 3.

At least two countries – South Korea and South Africa – have shown an interest in taking the tournament from Thailand, said Vorathep.

The tournament’s organizing committee has given the liquor trader two weeks to decide.

Riche Monde was set to hold the tournament in March, with many of the world’s top 50 players expected to take part. Golf stars including Ernie Els and Adam Scott have already agreed to play in the tournament.

Vorathep estimated that the tournament would generate employment and at least 1 billion baht in profit for Phuket. Johnnie Walker had also committed to promoting Thailand as a golf and spa paradise during the coverage. The event would be televised live to 300 million households in 62 countries.

Riche Monde asked the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports for permission to keep the name Johnnie Walker in the tournament title and place billboard advertising around the course. The government is yet to respond.

If the request is not granted, the company might shift the tournament to another country, Vorathep said.

The company has sponsored the Classic for more than 15 years and has already invested more than 100 million baht in next year’s tournament, including the attendance fee for several players. “We have already confirmed the location, the Blue Canyon course in Phuket, so if that changes the golfers could refuse to attend, claiming we had broken the contract,” said Vorathep.

The Blue Canyon course is currently under new management following a ruling by Phuket Provincial Court, but remains open to play.

Phuket News

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