Whisky giants slammed over sales in sleazy Thai bars

Whisky giants slammed over sales in sleazy Thai bars - Sunday Mail, May 14, 2005
Scotch whisky giants Chivas Regal and Johnnie Walker were yesterday accused of cashing in on the sleazy sex trade in Thailand. The global brands are raking in cash from sales in brothels and their brands are even used to advertise the sex clubs...


[2015 note: Like many newspaper articles from the early days of the internet, this article is no longer online. Below is the complete text of the original article.]

SCOTCH AND VICE; Whisky giants slammed over sales in sleazy Thai bars.

Byline: By BRIAN LIRONI

SCOTCH whisky giants Chivas Regal and Johnnie Walker were yesterday accused of cashing in on the sleazy sex trade in Thailand. The global brands are raking in cash from sales in brothels and their brands are even used to advertise the sex clubs.

Campaigners have warned bosses the sex industry in Thailand is fuelling child prostitution and lining the pockets of Asian crime barons.

The warning comes days after Chivas Regal boasted of record growth in Asia.

But their slogan 'This is the Chivas life' features in giant billboard adverts for licensed brothels.

One in Bangkok, bearing an image of Marilyn Monroe with a rose clinched between her teeth, encourages punters to head for the Pasaya 'party massage' parlour.

Another advert for the same sex club shows a hostess naked from behindThe Pasaya, run by owner Khun Jum, is a landmark on the notorious Ratchadapisek, one of Bangkok's major thoroughfares and known for its 'mega-brothels'.

Inside the club, girls - many of whom look younger than 16 - gyrate naked on tables for cash and offer 'extras' for just a few pounds.

Typically punters have 20 to 30 girls to choose from each night.

The system in Bangkok is that the customer picks out a girl in the bar area, pays a one-hour fee of 600 baht (about pounds 8.50) for a 'massage', then negotiates the extras with the girl in an upstairs room.

Empty boxes of Chivas are put out with the rubbish every morning, showing the popularity of the brand with Pasaya punters. Chivas and Johnnie Walker are the most popular whiskies in Asia and earn their owners - Chivas Brothers and Diageo - tens of millions of pounds profit every year.

Campaigners believe the tie-up between the brothels and the booze brands attracts wealthy western sex tourists.

Chris Beddoe, director of anti-child-prostitution pressure group ECPAT UK, said: '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.'

ECPAT is also appealing to the conscience of western holiday firms who unwittingly provide cheap deals for sex tourists.

Chris added: 'We have asked the major holiday companies to be aware of their responsibilities to Thai women and children.

'We have asked that they do not promote districts where there is a risk that children are being exploited for sex. It is our hope that if these areas are less accessible, the problem can be brought under control.'

The campaigners' call comes in the week that Chivas Regal was voted the only whisky 'superbrand' in a Reader's Digest survey of rich Asian consumersBosses have seen an annual world-wide sales growth for the brand of 12 per cent last year, selling 3.3 million nine-litre cases.

A Chivas Brothers spokeswoman 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 spokeswoman said: '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.'

Unicef spokeswoman Kathryn Irwin said: 'In south-east Asia, at least one million children are thought to be working in the sex industry where they are exploited at the hands of adults, both the brothel owners and customers.'

SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon, said: 'I would hope neither company is doing anything that could be seen to be condoning or encouraging child prostitution.

'If so, I am sure they would both want to take action to rectify this situation.'

Independent MSP Campbell Martin said: 'The flashy advertising hoardings they are putting their names to make it look as though these clubs are mainstream and acceptable.

'They are clearly not
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