Myanmar spelling disrupts Carlsberg’s marketing plan

MYANMAR Carlsberg has learned a lesson the hard way: It should have been wiser in picking a local term for its marketing plan.

The company, the brewer of Tuborg beer, has been embroiled in widespread criticism this past week, after its decision to use a popular Myanmar term – tu po – on the label.

Tu po is the most famous Burmese term to describe the tradition of its water festival – Thingyan in Myanmar and Songkran in Thailand. It is also the title of the most famous song of composer Myoma Nyein. Written in the 1940s, the song is still played today across Myanmar during the festival in April.

Social-media users bombarded the company with criticism for using the term to promote its beer product. Worsening the situation was a comment from the son of the composer.

Shun Myaing held a media briefing in Mandalay last week. He slammed the company, saying an auspicious term like tu po should not be used to promote a beer brand. To him, it was a kind of disrespect to Myanmar people.

He threatened to file a lawsuit if Tuborg beer, with the local term on the label, is not withdrawn from the market.

Carlsberg yesterday reacted to the criticism, deciding to remove the Burmese term from the label.

“In light of the claims of the relatives of the late Sayar Myoma Nyein and the general debate around the use of Tu Po in the marketing of Tuborg beer, we will discontinue the use of this spelling going forward and, to avoid any future misinterpretation, the original Danish brand name Tuborg will be used in Myanmar,” the company said in a statement.

Myanmar Carlsberg also explained that the packaging just aimed to convey the spirit of fun and music, which is part of Tuborg’s DNA. It also described its respect for Myanmar sentiment and commitment to fair and transparent business practices.


“We are taking immediate steps to implement the necessary modifications and will endeavour to have this completed before Thingyan. We appreciate the public’s patience while this is ongoing,” it said.

Carlsberg is the first foreign brewer to set up manufacturing in Myanmar. Myanmar Carlsberg was set up in 2013 as a 51:49 joint venture with Myanmar Golden Star, to run a facility in Bago that has annual capacity of 60 million litres per annum.

The joint venture was part of Carlsberg’s plan to establish strong presence in Indochina – touted as an important growth region for the company in Asia.

It has presence in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and it has a collaboration agreement with Singha Corp in Thailand.

According to the World Health Organisation, beer is the most popular alcoholic product in Myanmar, accounting for 82 per cent of alcohol consumption as of 2010. Others are spirits, at 12 per cent, and wine at 6 per cent.

Source: ELEVEN

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