Not Just Crazy Hair and Sizzling Dance Moves, the ‘Italians of Asia’* Have Powerful Appeal
A pop routine inspired by water filters?
It might seem like a stretch outside of Asia, but the gimmick doesn’t raise eyebrows for those familiar with the Korean Wave. South Korea’s stylish entertainment industry, driven by pop music and TV dramas, not only amuses but also serves as a potent and willing vehicle for marketing messages.
Korean girl group Sistar
“For a fan it feels personal,” said Mark Russell, author of “Pop Goes Korea: Behind the Revolution in Movies, Music and Internet Culture.” “The advertising is not selling out, it’s a way to see your celebrity more often.
“It’s viewed as more of a symbiotic relationship, where the fans are giving as much as they’re taking,” he said. “The celebrities really work with the fans in a lot of ways, like making sure there’s lots of shower scenes [in TV dramas]. They call that “fan service.’”
Korean entertainment has outsize influence considering it comes from a country of 49 million people that’s about the size of Indiana. Despite language barriers, the celebrities have passionate followings not only across Asia but even in Western countries, thanks to the internet and social media. Korean cultural exports hit a record $4.2 billion last year, the Financial Times reported.
Some acts are trickling into the U.S. mainstream. The nine-member Girls’ Generation became the first Korean musical group to perform on David Letterman’s show (pictured at right), when they sang an English version of their song “The Boys” in January. And girl group 2NE1 (pronounced “twenny-one”) collaborated with Will.i.am on a song being used in an Intel campaign. Seoul-based agency network Cheil Worldwide will host a session at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity next week on digital marketing opportunities through Korean pop music, with 2NE1 as guest stars.
“Korean stars are usually good at using social media to communicate with their fans. They speak about their personal lives (their family, their pets, etc.) and even post their “no-makeup’ photos,” Kenneth Cho, Cheil’s VP overseeing marketing strategies, told Ad Age by email. “Using these social/digital media, K-pop stars become …very approachable, someone who’s very close to me.”
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Pop stars are also frequent brand ambassadors, such as Sandara Park from 2NE1, who promotes, among other things, Nikon cameras. A recent campaign shows Ms. Park and her bandmates horsing around, staging a photo shoot with a hair dryer for a wind machine and using a Nikon Coolpix compact camera. “Our intention was to increase attractiveness as well as purchase decisions,” said Dongkook Kim, brand manager of Nikon Korea. The company said that since Ms. Park’s campaign debuted, Nikon has grown to a firm No. 2 in the market with a 23% share, trailing only Samsung.
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More broadly, Korean entertainment has apparently improved perceptions of “Brand Korea,” which not so long ago was associated with shoddy knockoffs. A 2011 poll of foreign consumers conducted by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency found that if products from the U.S., Japan or Germany are priced at $100, then Korean products are valued at $76.60. That’s up from $66.30 in 2006.
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Source: AdAge Global (Full Article)
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*The article refers to Koreans as the Italians of Asia for their expressiveness and fashion-oriented natures?