Only 23 years old, Neil Krisralam deserves to enter the Guinness Book of Records. Last may, during the festivities of the Amber Lounge at 73th Monaco F1 Grand Prix, the young thaï-australian set a new record in terms of media coverage. Long gone are the days when he was the best young tennis player in Australia…
A decade ago, Sonia Irvine, sister of Eddie, former irish teammate of Michael Schumacher at Ferrari F1 team, informed me of the Amber Lounge parties during the F1 Grand Prix.
Four events were scheduled for 2015 : after Monaco, it was Singapore, then at the end of october it is Mexico (note : this week), and finally at the end of november it will be Abu Dhabi to close the Formula One season.
Last May, I attended the highly coveted and most sophisticated event during the Monaco Grand Prix : Amber Lounge Monaco 2015. It is only venue in the world where F1 drivers walk the runway, and all for a good cause. This year it was to raise money for autism research.
At the Méridien Beach Plaza , I met Neil Krisralam, the head of Public and Press relations of this extraordinary event.
Born on 28 march 1992 in Thailand, Neil grew up in Sydney, Australia. He probably already had several lives, including one among elves, fairies and good spirits of the Forest of Brocéliande… That of the enchanter Merlin !
Because, this radiant young man evolves with real efficiency in one of the most competitive environments in the world, the F1 Grand Prix. Next to Sonia, Founder of Amber Lounge, the margin for error is narrow, if not nonexistent.
Neil Krisralam occupies a unique place in the great F1 circus. I was sure he had something to say away from the sheer lunacy of the Monaco Grand Prix. So I met him again during the summer on the grounds of his exploits.
Neil, you do not land in the « F1 circus » by magic. What is your background ?
Neil Krisralam : « I have always enjoyed learning and travelling the world. I hold a BA in Communication and Journalism acquired at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and a Masters Degree in luxury brand management from the International University of Monaco.
« I have worked in numerous places around the world for a multitude of luxury brands, from Bangkok, Australia, the UK, San Francisco, Shanghai, and now Monaco. »
You spend most of your time leading public relations and press relations Amber Lounge « The place to be » when attending a Formula 1 Grand Prix. How did you get here ?
N.K. : « Managing the PR of Amber Lounge has been my main professional occupation for two years. Amber is a unique color; it is the color of passion. It fits perfectly with the spirit of Sonia Irvine, founder of Amber Lounge, which has been around for over 13 years, and in its first year was marked by the presence of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco. That was in 2003 and I got there totally by coincidence. I knew people within Amber Lounge, and worked hard to achieve what I’ve accomplished for the company.
« Amber Lounge has already distributed four million to charity »
Amber Lounge makes it a point to link its activities to charity work. What exactly is it ?
N.K. : « Amber Lounge PR rely on two major areas treated with the same seriousness and the same ambition by the team of Sonia Irvine, I’d say the same passion for excellence and a job well done . There is a business side, financial gain, without which nothing would be possible and the other side are for charitable actions. Among our partners, many offer regular gifts to charities, including automobile industries, champagne producers such as Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot. In Mexico we have for the first time a partnership with Heineken.
« This year, either by coming to the event as a guest – we have 300 accredited people – or by using the material we sent, more than 700 media covered Amber Lounge.
« BBC conducted a live broadcast that brought together three million viewers, and we have provided information, photos and videos broadcast in 40 countries.
« Ultimately, Amber Lounge Monaco had six million euro value of media coverage, a record for a private event in the Principality.
« Amber Lounge charity auction 2015 was supporting autism research, and last year it supported researches on mental illness : the funds raised have approached 350 000 €. Since 2006 Amber Lounge has distributed more than four millions to charity, mostly dedicated to children. »
« F1 drivers know they are acting for a good cause »
Neil, you seem to be born to be part of the world of communication. What that means for you to do at Amber Lounge ?
N.K. : « There are so many jobs and so much to do on the subject of communication. As for me, I’m happy to be behind the scenes and I enjoy working in a glamorous area, but this is a real job that requires long and difficult days. Obviously, there are harder jobs! But it is essential to satisfy everyone.
« What do partners, guests, journalists, celebrities want ? We want as well and we have to take care of everyone with a smile. For their fashion show, before the charity auction, F1 drivers are very concentrated but they do not take themselves seriously.
« But sometimes » people « pose little problems … F1 drivers know they are acting for a good cause. Behind the scenes we have fun and we laugh. I like Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, and among the new ones, Roberto Merhi and Felipe Nasr. Last year I was blown away by the kindness and sincerity of Jules Bianchi. «
« Integrity, passion and success are the three words I live by »
Neil, you work at Monaco where everything seems easy when you live in the world of luxury. Is it a reality?
N.K. : « It is a reality, among others, because in Monaco there is much more than the glamorous façade people are used to seeing. Everyone here has a story. You must work hard to build relationships while not forgetting your friends and what’s important in life. The Principality is as much a place to dream but also to work.
« Nevertheless, defend a brand or a product, promote or organize an event in Monaco is as demanding as in New York, London or Paris. The reward is successful in achieving its objectives. «
For you, does the success also depend on the money ?
N.K. : « Not stubbornly, but everyone works to at least make a living with dignity, right? If, in addition, we work a lot and if we’re successful we can actually see it coming a little more money … What I find interesting is to meet new people working.
« If you get up every day inspired, it’s already great! Passion, integrity and success are the three words that I live by. Human relationships, honesty, sincerity and the fact that people believe in you is also good fuel. «
« At Miss World, I thought I would see young stupid women … »
Last winter, you were in charge of the PR for Miss World. What are your memories?
N.K. : « The final of Miss World 2014 in London, wow, it was warm for December !
« I met 140 young women from all around the world: they were all so beautiful and so intelligent. Moreover, as a tradition, each of them defends a noble cause. Miss World, it is the Olympics of beauty. Pageant contestants get up at 5 am and go to bed the next day at 1am. Some plan to become doctors or lawyers.
« And to think that I had arrived in London in thinking that they were stupid … A very thoughtless preconceived idea ! »
« My mom told me, always keep your head up and your feet on the ground »
Neil, tell me what you would have also liked to talk about and I have not asked you?
N.K. : « Mmm … I would like to travel more and spend more time with my family, my mom Srivilai Buddacharoen, my brother Nicky and my sister Nisha.
« I almost become a professional tennis player: when I was 12, I was classified No. 1 in my category in Australia; My parents spent a lot of money and they pushed me so that I continue. But at 15 I stopped and I have no regrets!
« Thailand is an amazing country and the culture deserves to be known and recognized. The big problem there are poverty issues, difficulties to access education and food; children are the main victims.
« Coming from Thailand and working in Monaco, I am able to appreciate every little happiness life offered me. I love beautiful things and I know about value, but I’m not materialistic.
« I have in my memory what my mom told me, » Always keep your head up and your feet on the ground » Thanks to her, I have made an habit to never look at people from above.
« I live in Cap d’Ail, close to the sea. I like to get up with the sun and smiling. I would like to start a family, have two or three children and teach them life, no matter boys or girls. My daughter could become Miss World! «
And if you were a magician?
N.K. : « Magician ! I ? (note: Neil laughed one more time good heart). Good question. If I were a magician, I would feed and give water to all human beings. And everyone would be healthy ! »
Neil Krisralam is a precious little diamond in the world of F1 Grand Prix communication. From Amber Lounge to Miss World, his adaptability and capacity for work is impressive.
Read in french : lire en français.
Photos : AMBER LOUNGE (Dave BENETT, Laurent CIAVALDINI, Shilton TAN)
& Charles-Bernard Adreani