Cambodia: Advertisement that Attracts

In a recent opinion letter to one of Cambodia's newspapers, Chak Sopeap, 23, voices her concern over a commercial television advertisement, which she believes affect the nation's culture.

Sopheap praises the government for the improved press rights and freedom of expression, but wants Ministry of Culture as well as Ministry of Information to ensure that all commercial TV ads should be properly monitored before going on air.

It's not the first time for the young human rights activist expressing her opinion through Op-Ed. But it was until last year when she joined Cambodia blogger community that all her letters (one of which is about Khmer Rouge tribunal), published in English-language daily newspaper The Cambodia Daily, can also be found on her personal Weblog.

In the controversial ads, it appears that several Cambodian sexy women in attractive clothes embracing promotional motorbike Suzuki Viva 2009.

I noticed a recent advertisement for Susuki Viva 2009 is problematic. This advertisement appears to target on sexy girls rather than on the Motor; its content is not consistent and affect the Khmer Culture and disvalue the woman.

Offending or not, Thomas Wanhoff, a German national commented on Sopheap's expressed opinion that:

If Cambodia wants to be part of the global markets, its has to accept one of the oldest rules in advertising: sex sells. But not only that: The whole pop culture in Cambodia is just a copy of what we now from Thailand. Where is the real culture? Look how especially girls are dressed up. Why are a lot of karaoke bars, casinos, night bars, named it. The reality is far from what you decribed not consistent.

This debatable point also appeared in a Cambodia related discussion board, and that a long-time American resident wrote an email saying that

I might suggest you try to get a picture of the offending ad – it doesn't have to be the worst part, or a good picture but it will support your argument. (I wonder if it is on YouTube?) Also, what station is running it?

Not surprisingly, Cambodia has introduced a number regulations and bans in attempt to improve social order as well as morality. Early this year, a song titled “I’m asking for one part of your heart” was requested not to be replayed on TV by the country's First Lady.

In 2006, fear of widespread of pornography among cellphone users, Cambodia blocked some features of sending digital video on 3G network service.

A year later, based on a request from National Election Committee, mobile phone text messaging was blocked during a weekend of 2007 local elections to avoid political unrest. ‘Details are Sketchy,’ a blog about all things Cambodia, has a response to the news article:

For starters, Khmer fonts for the average telephone are virtually unheard of. But, really, that’s besides the point. The fact is, an overwhelming majority of the Cambodian population is illiterate. And poor. So in practice such a ban would only effect registered voters who also own a telephone and can read English. That’s a pretty small group. Significantly less than 1% of the population. It is, however, exactly the kind of people that vote for Sam Rainsy. Still, it hardly seems worth the effort.


  • Don Jameson

    The sexy advertisement may not be consistent with the Chbap Srey but most people in Phnom Penh or other cities do not live by the Chbap Srey anymore (if they ever did). There are night clubs, beer halls and brothels (whole large hotels like the Hotel Washington with women for sale) all over the place so it is a bit inconsistent to argue that there should not be advertisements featuring women on TV. It seems like many Cambodians live in two worlds, the ideal one in their minds based on traditional values and the real one which represents what is actually happening every day. Expressing concern about TV ads when trafficking in women and children for sex is rife reflects a sense of denial about the serious problems which do exist. The real concern should be for the women (and young girls and boys) who are victimized by the sex trade but many Cambodians apparently do not want to even admit that this is going on so they focus on relatively innocuous and unimportant issues such as TV commercials to divert attention from the unpleasant reality.

  • That is true, current morality is decreasing from day to day, and affecting the culture of Cambodia. Who is responsible to commercial ads? the decrease in the Cambodian culture is because of the inflowing of foreign culture, lax of law enforcement, corruption in government institutions, corrupt officials.

    Prime Minister Hun Sen used to criticize PSI spot on promotion of using condom amongst youths. and he said that this promotion was pushing youths to be more and more involving into sex.

  • […] is really loud! Using a video projector, and continuing with the megaphone, the group looks at the comments on the Global Voices Cambodia page regarding on Sopheap’s recent post about sex in advertising. The irony of discussing this – […]

  • […] momba ny olana amin’ny fanampiasana ny fivaviana sy ny vehivavy entina hampisongadinana ny dokam-barotra eo amin’ny Televizionina ny mpanoratra Tharum an’ny GV avy ao Cambodia. Nangataka ny […]

  • […] nisy ihany koa ny olana efa nitranga taloha tamina dokambarotra navoakan'ny orinasa-na mpivarotra môtô izay nanivaiva ny hasin'ny […]

  • […] 2008 was er ook al bezorgdheid geuit over een advertentie van een fabrikant van motorfietsen, waarin vrouwen gedegradeerd zouden […]

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