UK: Chivas, Johnnie Walker pushing Thai sex trade?
Pernod Ricard and Diageo have been accused of exploiting Thailand's sex trade. The two companies were targeted by a report in yesterday's Sunday Mail for allowing their whisky brands to be sold in, and to be used to advertise, Thai brothels.
The paper said that Chivas Regal, owned by Pernod, and Johnnie Walker, part of Diageo's portfolio, appear in adverts for sex clubs in and around Bangkok. A billboard advert featuring Chivas' slogan "This is the Chivas life" encourages punters to head for the Pasaya 'party massage' parlour, the paper claimed.
"Empty boxes of Chivas are put out with the rubbish every morning, showing the popularity of the brand with Pasaya punters," the paper noted. Campaigners believe the tie-up between the brothels and the booze brands attracts wealthy western sex tourists, the paper added.
Chris Beddoe, director of anti-child-prostitution pressure group ECPAT UK, told the Sunday Mail: "Multinational companies should not be selling their products within bars and saunas where sex is sold. They should be paying closer attention to where their products are and ensure they are not supporting the sex industry.
"These brothels are forcing young women and girls into prostitution and no globally successful firm which claims to have a social conscience should be encouraging that."
When approached by the paper, a Chivas Brothers spokesperson said: "In common with other international spirit brands, Chivas Regal does provide legally licensed bars and outlets selling its brands with point-of-sale material for display. This may have led to some confusion."
A Johnnie Walker spokesperson told the paper: "We sell to our wholesalers in good faith and all of our activities, wherever we operate, are within the letter of the law locally. But once the wholesalers have our products and promotional materials, we do not have control over how they are used.
"While most outlets are operating legitimately, there may be some outlets where materials are being used inappropriately."
In the leader column, the paper attacked the two companies, asking why they have "allowed their proud brands to be associated with Thailand's sordid sex industry?
"These major firms may have inadvertently found themselves involved in this indefensible business.
"Let's hope that they cut their ties now to preserve their fine reputations," the leader concluded.
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