Team-building through football
Siam Cement Group hopes to raise its visibility with a stake in Muangthong United
For the Siam Cement Group (SCG), making investments around the region is not enough to make its name well known, as most of its products are not the type often seen and easily recognisable by consumers.
Pramote: Enhancing his brand regionally
To increase its public profile, SCG is seeking new ways to attract attention.
Most recently, the chemicals, paper, cement and building materials conglomerate bought 30% of Muangthong United Football Club for 600 million baht.
The investment is just the latest effort by the company to get noticed by and stay in the minds of football fans, whose numbers in the region are growing fast.
For two years, Siam Cement has been the main sponsor of Samut Songkhram FC, a football team that finished the 2011 season poorly.
Last year, Muangthong United, also known as the Kirins, was ranked No. 3. In the 2009 and 2010 seasons, the team took the Thai Premier League title.
Pramote Techasupatkul, the president of SCG Cement, said the team is the right pick for the company, given its character. Its goal to become one of the top three teams in Asia fits well with SCG's vision of becoming a regional business leader.
The club has in excess of 10,000 Thai fans.
"The team has played a lot in the region, so it's known by fans in countries such as Vietnam and Myanmar. SCG has manufacturing bases in many Asean countries, and I think the team and the company can support each other," said Mr Pramote, who has played a major role in SCG's football-related activities and is now a director of Muangthong United.
He said while SCG has set up production plants and launched corporate social responsibility programmes in neighbouring countries, it still needs ways to get more publicity.
"There are a sizeable number of football fans in countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Myanmar," said Mr Pramote.
"Sports marketing is something that will help establish our brand in the region more quickly and help us to achieve the status of an Asean business leader."
From next season onwards, the Nonthaburi-based club will be known as SCG Muangthong United FC. Yamaha Stadium will be renamed SCG Stadium in mid-March.
Under a five-year agreement, SCG will spend 120 million baht a year on team development and gain two board seats.
The partnership with Muangthong means SCG's two-year sponsorship of Samut Songkhram FC, also known as the Mackerels, will come to an end.
Mr Pramote said the possibility of the Mackerels becoming one of the top five teams is low, as competition has intensified.
Nonetheless, the relationship with the club from Thailand's smallest province is not a total failure, as the public now knows SCG is a major football sponsor.
"We conducted a survey and found that two years of supporting the football club helped people to know our brand faster than 30 years of sponsoring badminton," he said with a big smile.
Chaipranin Visudhipol, chairman of the Advertising Association of Thailand and TBWA\Thailand Co, said sports marketing these days has become increasingly popular among Thai corporations, not only for building awareness of the brand but also for creating brand loyalty.
"Football has been drawing greater interest from Thai fans since professional leagues were established," he noted.
SCG brands best known in Thailand and regional markets are mainly sanitaryware-related such as Cotto, while the group's main businesses such as petrochemicals are not very visible to the general public.
Mr Pramote dismissed claims that 600 million baht was too much for Muangthong United.
"Spending 120 million baht a year to gain access to a market of more than 500 million people in the region is not a lot," he said. "Our target is not only the Thai market."