Whisky's naked ambition for sales

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 November, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 November, 1998, 12:00am

An ambitious whisky distributor is reviving the Thai nude calendar for the holiday season in a bid to corner the hot recession-driven market for cut-price booze.

United Pacific will spend 10 million baht (HK$2.1 million) to give away 500,000 calendars in a drive to double the sales of Blue Eagle - a bargain basement whisky currently being targeted at Bangkok's hard-drinking elites.

The Bangkok Post reported that the firm hoped to be able to sell 300,000 cases by the end of the year by giving away one calendar for every two bottles sold.

Blue Eagle is among the score of unknown whiskies that have emerged on shelves as drinkers turn away from more expensive brands.

Whisky drinking had reached virtual cult status at the height of the Thai boom, with many Bangkok night-spots demanding the purchase of a bottle of Chivas Regal or Black Label as part of the entrance fee.

The same bars are now starting to offer bottles of Great Scott Scotch, Spey Royal and the curiously titled Clinton Blend.

Holiday season nude calendars were once highly popular among Thai liquor and oil companies, with thousands of free giveaways often hoarded and ending up on the black market.

The dawning of political correctness coupled with soaring printing costs killed the tradition, much to the pleasure of increasingly vocal women's groups.