At 8:23 AM last Monday morning, I showed up to the all-faculty meeting at Payap. The meeting came after a full weekend of ultimate frisbee in Bangkok where Elephantastic–the team I captained–won the Spirit Award (and would have won the Party Award if there was one – yeah Sukhumvit!) Sunscreen, even my liquid-shirt SPF110, was powerless against two days of ultimate under the Bangkok sun. I showed up at Payap with a red and crispy face but a heart full of joy. While it hurt to squint, I couldn’t help but look inquisitively at Payap’s new larger-than-life poster outside the meeting hall and on the Payap website:
It’s based off the old cigarette billboards of Newport Pleasure. When I was a kid, we would drive 30 minutes across Pittsburgh from the East side to the South a couple times a month to visit our relatives. If there’s one thing I remember from the hundreds of trips across urban Pittsburgh it’s the cigarette billboards. That’s of course, before the government decided all those colorful and cartoon-filled posters were mostly predatory attempts at attracting pre-teen smokers (who have a higher percentage of becoming lifelong smokers.) When I saw the latest Payap marketing scheme it only took me a few minutes to connect those childhood memories with the bright orange letters and bubbly font.
Alive with pleasure? I’m not sure which part of the university experience “alive with pleasure” is supposed to allude to but I can’t say it’s what I offer in my courses. “Alive with intellectual discovery” perhaps more aptly applies. Alas, reality is much harder to sell.
I don’t want to put all the blame on Payap, though. Copyright infringement is so ubiquitous in Thailand that it’s probably even a boring topic for the grumpy retired Englishmen who spend their waning years drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes (probably not Newports), and complaining. Does this mean it’s right? Of course not, and Payap has taken down the posters. Oh wait. I stand corrected. As I was typing that, I decided to check the website. They’ve taken down the “alive with pleasure” line but kept the rest.
No one and nothing is perfect, even copyright law, so I don’t want to be too harsh on anyone but you have to give Newport credit. Obviously, their marketing scheme was so effective that it was burned into my pre-teen brain and warranted copying by a Thai university 15 years later.