By Veikko Laine
The first issue of Thaimaansuomalainen came out mid-August 2006. The tabloid size magazine contained only 16 pages, six adverts plus 15 map module adverts but it was written in Finnish for the Finns. From the very beginning it was obvious that the Finns in Thailand love their magazine.
“It all started three years ago, really,” says mr. A. Juhana Keronen, the man behind Thaimaansuomalainen.
“I lived in Spain those days and was working as an editor for Olé-magazine when a friend of mine came to tell me about Thailand and the Finnish community in Pattaya. Olé publishing company was a family run business and since all my bosses had the same family name it did not take me very long to figure out what my career chances were there so I decided to have a look at Thailand, he says smiling.
Busy year 2006
Keronen landed at the old Don Muang airport on the 2nd of September 2005, took a taxi to Pattaya, got himself a hotel room and started to study the market.
“I was very lucky to get to know the right people almost as soon as I set afoot in Thailand,” he says and gives me a list of well known farang media figures in Thailand.
“Odi Sands in Pattaya, Håkan Wallenius and Greger Möller in Bangkok, Per-Erik Andersson in Phuket and finally Niels Colov of Pattaya People media group. I did not know it then, but Håkan and Niels were to affect my life a lot later on.”
Funny enough it was Wallenius who was the match maker between Gizmo, as Keronen is called all over Pattaya, and both Möller and Andersson. Nowadays Gizmo helps Gregers with matters related to the ever so difficult Finnish language and oversees Pelle Andersson’s newspaper delivery business in Pattaya.
“Pelle gave me a chance to get the Finnish Ilta-Sanomat delivered in Pattaya area and of course I took it.”
The idea of Thaimaansuomalainen first saw light sometime during April 2006.
“I realized that the Finns will read anything since there was almost nothing offered for them. It was an easy decision.
2 fast 4 U?
From the humble beginnings the magazine has grown very fast. Issue number two had 20 pages and double the amount of adverts, number three 24 pages and… Where is this leading to? Do you have control over this growth.
“I do hope so,” he laughs as if there was not a single cloud in his sky.
“From the start my aim was to have the magazine on delivery everywhere where there are Finns in Thailand. Now we are distributing in Hua Hin, Koh Samui, Pattaya and Phuket. After we have done something about Bangkok we are ready with the printed magazine. The number of pages will remain at 24 at least until next September,” he says and reveals some of the magazine’s future plans.
“For this coming spring our big challence will be the internet. We have already made a deal with the Hosting Group to create our web-pages so that the Thailand orientated Finns all over the world can read Thaimaansuomalainen at the comfort of their own home. We also want to give more value for money for our advertisers by creating links from their internet adverts in Thaimaansuomalainen to advertiser’s own home pages. This way Finnish people who are planning their trip to Thailand can make their hotel reservations, or car hire contracts from their living rooms if they want. Interactivity is the word in today’s media business, Keronen believes.
At this point I have to ask who does A. Juhana mean when he says “we”. You and the magazine?
“Oh no,” he says laughing and lets us into his private joke.
“I had the first issue completed ready. The stories, pictures, adverts, layout, pdf-files, simply everything when my money ran out. So I called Niels and set up a meeting with him. I told him straight and honest what my situation was and showed him what I have. He listened to me for a while, took a look at the material I had with me and said: “Gizmo, I think we gonna be partners on this.” That’s how we became a part of Pattaya People media group.
So what you are saying is…
“The magazine’s my baby. Don’t make any mistake about that. But it would not be around without Niels. Who said that honesty does not pay?”
By Veikko Laine