Oddly Enough

Ads for "Thaksin, Fight" energy drink pulled

Former Thai Prime Minister and Manchester City football club owner Thaksin Shinawatra gestures during the opening ceremony of an official store of the club in Bangkok May 16,2008. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Promoters of a new Thai energy drink called “Thaksin, Fight” have had to scale back their advertising for fear of inciting violence between supporters and opponents of the ousted prime minister.

With small but daily street rallies against Thaksin Shinawatra clogging up Bangkok’s streets, drink-maker Natchapol Supatana said on Tuesday he had decided to cancel television and radio slots for the bitter-sweet beverage.

“We are using his name to ride on his popularity among many Thais but we don’t want to be accused of being a catalyst for worsening social division,” Natchapol told Reuters. “We are now opting for direct sales to shops and superstores.”

The drink, similar to Thailand’s popular “Red Bull” energy drink, has been a hit in taste tests with northern Thais, who handed the telecoms billionaire thumping election victories in 2001 and 2005 before protests triggered his removal in a 2006 coup.

With an avowedly pro-Thaksin administration back in charge after a December election, the anti-government demonstrations have started again -- as have the fears of social discord and even talk another coup.

Reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan; Editing by Ed Cropley and Valerie Lee