Marketing’s Next Wave: The Korean Pop Star

Not Just Crazy Hair and Sizzling Dance Moves, the ‘Italians of Asia’ Have Powerful Appeal

A pop routine inspired by water filters?

Why not!

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.

“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, when they sang an English version of their song “The Boys” in January. And girl group 2NE1 (pronounced “twenny-one”) collaborated with 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.”

Unlike in Japanese pop culture, which often features young girls in school uniforms, Korean stars project stronger, more independent personalities. They’re not as sexualized as Western celebrities, though long shapely legs seem to be a prerequisite for Korean starlets. The music is club-friendly, and lyrics often include a few words of English for more international appeal.

Korea’s entertainment industry began taking off around 2000, as Seoul looked to culture to help lift the country out of Asia’s economic crisis, said Eric Cruz, who worked for Wieden & Kennedy in Tokyo and is involved in the region’s music and creativity scene.

“Just as Japan started exporting its culture through manga, Hello Kitty and anime, Korea also started looking at its own culture and looking at things it could capitalize on,” said Mr. Cruz, now executive creative director at Leo Burnett & Arc Worldwide Malaysia.

One thing that made Korean entertainment, especially TV dramas, stand out in Asia were emotions conveyed openly. Unlike other Asian cultures where subtle forms of expression are the norm, Koreans are known to be passionate and hot-tempered, Mr. Cruz said.

“They’re kind of known as the Italians of Asia,” Mr. Cruz said. They’re one of the more expressive cultures, more explosive in how they express themselves. It’s also the way they carry themselves, and they’re more into fashion.”

Still, the themes of popular Korean TV dramas hew closely to Asia’s generally conservative culture. Unmarried adult characters still live with their parents, and there’s little violence or sex. Plotlines are aspirational, with the polite, long-suffering girl doing the right thing and triumphing in the end.

Marketers found TV programs to be a strong platform to promote products from cellphones to cosmetics. In “The King 2 Hearts,” a South Korean prince eats pink heart-shaped Dunkin’ Donuts on dates with his girlfriend, a North Korean Special Forces officer. He tells her that in South Korea, it’s normal for couples to eat donuts when they go out.

“Dream High,” about teenagers becoming pop stars, was designed from the beginning to be marketing-friendly. Its website has a page listing details of the clothes, shoes and electronics used by the characters.

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.

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.

Respondents who said they’d experienced Korean culture (such as music or TV) in the past year tended to have a favorable perception of Brand Korea.

Perhaps the most telling indication that the Korean Wave resonates deeply with consumers is the increasing number of foreign tourists, many of them Chinese, going to Korea for plastic surgery to look more like their favorite idols. “Nearly all of them said they want the face of Lee Young-Ae,” an Agence France-Presse report cited Seoul plastic surgeon Joo Kwon as saying, referring to a popular Korean actress.


Source: Ad Age

If you’re interested, check my spazz after the cut. Kekeke! XD

Gaaahhhh! WOW Dara, just wow! Like, every product she endorses does awesome! ^^ I know that the P300 last year was one of Nikon’s most successful cameras, and that the J1 really did well during the holidays as gifts, and I keep seeing people/bloggers on Naver who said that they brought the “Sandara Cameras” because they wanted to try it, but I never thought that because of her campaign, Nikon rose up to be number 2, just right behind Samsung~! Wow, just wow! Nikon, more ads for Dara and also 2NE1 as a group please! ^^ And of course there’s Etude! Etude has always done extremely well in the market, but Dara’s endorsements have helped them reach out to a more diverse market as well, and it’s one of the top-selling cosmetics brand not just in Korea but in other countries in Asia where they also sell. ^^ 

Dara the ultimate endorser, a go go go! ^^

Comments on: "News: Marketing’s Next Wave: The Korean Pop Star – 2NE1 And Dara Mentions!" (35)

  1. Hiya! I simply wish to give an enormous thumbs up for the good information you’ve got here on this post.

    I will probably be coming again to your weblog for more

  2. I am very proud of this. Dara has a very charming likeable personality that draws the masses to her. more endorsements please!

  3. finalfantasyqueen said:

    kyaaa….!!! so happy to read this. Dara unnie is reaally the BEST!!.

  4. can i say daebak??? just the thought of mentioning Dara in this article just makes me sooo proud… aigooo… plus knowing that Nikon raised up in the no.2 slot following Samsung. a double daebak!! Dara! so that’s why you’re getting richer now eh? kkk
    you worked hard on that Dara! ^^;

  5. mybabysav47 said:

    the magic of sandara park..:))

  6. The P300 “Sandara camera” was actually Nikon’s #1 bestselling camera last year and was the #2 highest selling digital camera in the overall market for 2011. It’s no wonder Dara was able to snag a solo CF with the Nikon J1 and they made prominent use of her in the latest P310 CF, calling it “Sandara’s A Shot A Day.”

    In 2011, Etude House’s sales jumped up 38% from the previous year.

  7. kissyvee said:

    The Power of Sandara Park!! Helllzzz yeah!
    She is one very effective endorser indeed!
    No Wonder many are vying to get her to endorse their products, kkk 😛
    There is reason why she is a hot item, it’s because she can do something like this! ^^
    From CASS, to ETUDE, and now NIKON!
    she makes you wanna buy the product whatever she is endorsing, simply because it’s SANDARA! 😛
    More Endorsement please YG! ^^

  8. wowwww…
    i dunno the previous stats for nikon and samsung, their recent sales and what else, but the fact that they mentioned this (…since Ms. Park’s campaign debuted, Nikon has grown to a firm No. 2 in the market with a 23% share, trailing only Samsung) in this article, wow, dara must have really created a huge impact.

    this reminds me of last year’s article on the top income earners among idols–any news on that for this year? it’s already june. she was in top 15, i think, last year.

    hope this news convinces yg to let her do a movie or a tv series this year. yep, 2ne1’s about to get busy but didn’t they just announce that top’s going to shoot for a film in july? and big bang’s going on a world tour. that’s a busier sked than 2ne1’s, right? another etude campaign like kiss note wouldn’t suffice anymore this time.

  9. Number 2 just second to Samsung? Wow!!! That is saying something. I wonder how is Etude is doing? I’m from the Philippines and I must say that Etude is doing really really well here. Heres to hoping for more blessing to Dara and 2NE1. Super excited for there comeback!!!

  10. Reblogged this on edherei.

  11. sweepberry said:

    That’s the “DARA-EFFECT!!” You already told quoting the BIggest Known Troll YG: “Sandara Park can make Impossible, possible.” ~ Amen to that! and it definitely true!

    DARA is the Modern version of Helen of Troy, The Real life version/person of Naruto Anime.
    Well who cant blame it more? keke You GO ~ Babygirl! Goddess indeed! :3

    • Amen to that Sister!!!^^ and Mr. YG, please let Sweetie Dee be in drama!!!Pretty please!!!^^

  12. ilovessantokki said:

    She’s a powerhouse endorser!

    • ilovessantokki said:

      I wonder how many times YG had to turn down endorsement deals for her (and 2NE1). They must be really picky. They only endorse the biggest, top name brands! Lol, proud Daraling ^^

      • yeah, so true

      • I noticed that too. 2NE1 seems so picky when it comes to endorsements and they only accept top, well known brands. On Dara’s profile on the YG official site, they made special mention that Dara receives many lovecalls for endorsements.

  13. The power of Sandara!
    “Sandara Cameras” cute, they calls the nikon cam, that. ahahaha

  14. yourdbest said:

    Question… when you mean Cannes, does that mean France Cannes or Cannes just in S Korea setting? Because didn’t Cannes France finished like some weeks ago? But no 2ne1. so meaning it must be a Cannes award but in S Korea setting? So no 2ne1 french interaction.

    They referred S Korea as the Italians of Asia… Ok I get the point, because Italians are more subtle but fearsome beneath (mafia). Unlike USA thats like in your face.

    I have a feeling… 2ne1 will be dropping teasers this week.. why? bec. they are so silent. And they recently opened a weibo account, means the end is near, or better yet it’s been a long time coming but their here now.

    • ilovedara said:

      It’s the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and 2ne1 will be one of the speakers of the Festival that will happen on June 17-23, 2012… So, they event will be starting 5 days from now.

  15. woahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Dara is really the ultimate endorser.. more endorsements to come Goddess!!! :))))

  16. ilovedara said:

    I’m really proud of Dara of what she is achieving right now. No matter the criticisms, the setbacks, and other stuff…she has he the power that made people wanted to buy the products that she is endorsing….I’m really proud of you!!!

    So no matter what this guy “Hero Angeles”says to you….it’s his loss….
    I have just read an article …this is the link…. I’m really pissed off with his unprofessionalism and blamed others with his downfall… tsk tsk

    • .. all the people knew that his career was mismanaged plus why does he needs to put the blame on Dara? it’s not as if Dara got her fame in an instant the moment she went to Korea.. his bro (and manager) tried to show off against the station who teamed them up together.. Dara for sure knew something about him that made her dislike him to the point of telling it to his face.

      • ilovedara said:

        yeah…I know right….
        Now, I’m just really glad that Sandara went off to Korea. Not hating the country Philippines but hating these lowlifes like him…God will give credits to those who are hardworking… and one of them is Sandara.

      • yeah. Hero shouldn’t blame goddess Dee of his downfall. He should persevere more if he really wants to help his family. Past is past… move on dude! 🙂

  17. congrats…
    hpe mor endrsmnt 2 cme…
    goddess DARA effect:-)

  18. awkward610 said:

    Yes….. more success for Dara!!!

  19. I’m really proud of Dara! And, yeah, I’ll buy whatever she’s selling. – from a broke Dara fan. LOL!

  20. Iznaberry said:

    KYAAH! I just knew the power of Dara! I can remember the Cass Days wherein they have the same amount of increase! More endorsements for Dara pls! I just love how the Nikon representative said that it’s Ms Park’s endorsement! I knew why Nikon always seems to be Dara centered! kekeke! Love love it! 🙂

    Thanks for the trans belle unnie!

  21. The purchasing power of Dara stans is amazing and dara equals to quality sales. hello hello intel?kekek….

  22. awww!!! i’m such a proud daraling!!! you go get ’em baby girl!!! :’)

    • Me too!!! T.T We luv u Sweetie Dee!!!!HWAITING!!!!!!Please be strong and keep smiling<3333

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