Hurray for the healthy & strong idea

Because this is a long overdue article that I don’t even seem to remember the last time I sat down to write something, I wanted to officially announce good news on my private place before anywhere else. My team at Grey Korea office has recently won Silver for ambient/out of home advertisement from Clio Healthcare Awards 2014. Although I was not the main SPOC AE handling the account, I was overjoyed to receive this amazing appreciation for the work we have done.

To briefly introduce the work, it was the ambient/out of home ad piece for Parodontax Korea, a sodium bicarbonate toothpaste brand under GlaxoSmithKline. The major challenge was to change and improve the common understanding of healthy and strong gums in consumers’ minds. The research showed that most consumers are not aware of the fact that the health of their teeth is highly affected by the health of their gums; they seemed to consider teeth and gums issues separately. It was crucial for us to effectively communicate the importance of healthy gums in order to have healthy teeth. This conceptual idea of healthy teeth & gums was visually expressed by an image of a person biting on to the seats placed on busy bus shelters. A bench was installed where consumers can sit and wait for the bus while they can think about their own teeth and gums health issues. With simple yet eye-catching design, this bus shelter was successful at increasing relevancy and impact through physical engagement of consumers in the actual executed idea. The relationship of teeth and gums health gained great amount of interest among consumers who were waiting for the bus, and eventually strengthened its linkage to the brand.

Parodontax for healthy & strong gums

I remember hearing that a great advertisement is that of which can deliver the core message in its simplest and most impactful way. I believe Clio Healthcare recognized the core message this bus shelter has attempted to deliver through its simple and impactful visual installed at major bus shelters.

Parodontax for healthy & strong gums

After all, this work means a lot to me, as this is the very first Clio in my life. I believe other winning entries would inspire me even more with its brilliant creativity; and so, I’m telling my lucky friends in NYC who get the chance to view them for free at the Clio Winner’s Gallery. It will be located at The Westin Times Square from September 30th to October 2nd. I hope you can make time to visit and be inspired with amazing work from all over the world. This trip to brilliant creativity, for sure, will be the real medicine for the healthy and strong ideas.

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Smarter Reminder for Smarter Us

It’s 2014, another new year. Families get together and people send “happy new year” messages to friends they have not contacted for a long time. Just because it is another new start based on the calendar, we tend to put things in a reset mode. I mean, we try to do things in more productive and efficient ways in order to: 1) make up for the lazy years; and, 2) result in more positive outcomes that will tell us, “you did good job this year,” by the 31st of December. This is when most of us are highly optimistic and enthusiastic to prolong this positive future-oriented vibe. That is probably why we try to connect to people we lost contact with, give presents and share “wish luck messages”, begin something new and, of course, make New Year’s resolutions.

A lot of us, again, sit down and think deeply in order to write New Year’s resolution, which for most people have not changed for years. I always include things like “lose weight or eat healthier” but I know, from the time I write these down, that I won’t stick to most of the resolutions. Just like how New Year’s resolution became part of our New Year’s tradition, we are more familiar with the difficulty of sticking to them.

Smarter reminder for smarter us

Recognizing this New-Year’s-resolutions-syndrome, Design Maker released new product in order to offer us little help. Design Maker (, Korea-based brand making full-customized mobile phone case, launched smartphone cases with consumer’s New Year’s resolutions printed as personalized design. Through collaborations with local and foreign designers and global brands like BMW and Kipling, the brand has been satisfying consumers who seek for special and unique smartphone cases. Not only the newly released “New Year’s resolutions smartphone case” protects the mobile phone, but it also continuously reminds users of the resolutions throughout the year.

According to the analysis by KT Economics and Business Research Institute, 94% of the Korean smartphone users actually use mobile phone cases to protect their devices. Along with this trend, a lot of consumers tend to use smartphone cases as a communication tool to express one’s self. Full-customized design of mobile phone case provides higher consumer satisfaction by catering to their personal preferences and needs which make the product more special and premium. Furthermore, mobile phone case is considered as a new consumer marketing tool with its benefit of quick and easy reachability to users. Smartphone’s more than 200 exposures to consumers within a day make mobile phone cases highly effective communication channel.

I guess we keep writing New Year’s resolutions to live better and happier year compared to previous ones despite the difficulty of sticking to it. Then, this reminder of resolutions printed on “smart”phones which will help us to live smarter days, thus, the “smart reminder”, is something we might want to look into for smarter us.

A Time of Changes

It’s March. It’s when cold snow melts away and green shoots begin to sprout. As the weather changes, people dress lighter and they tend to have more outdoor activities. A lot of other things adjust and transform due to seasonal change but there are parts in our society that remain the same. Poverty, inequality, unemployment, crime and many other social issues stay unresolved, or get worse to be more exact. I’m not going to go any deeper or continue with my views on social problems but I, as someone interested in marketing and advertising, wanted to learn more about some marketing efforts made to contribute to the society.

I’d like to make some clarifications before I continue: I’m not talking broadly about media influence on society; rather, I’ll be sharing a brilliant idea from a non-profit organization and see how that related more to its supporters. I won’t be talking about the role of mass media in relation to social problems since that’s more like a thesis topic (really). Second, I’m not here to evaluate a particular corporation or organization and its mission/vision. I know there are a lot of companies that return back to the society and put efforts to make changes. I found this specific idea (what I’ll be sharing) cute and heartwarming and I just wanted to share it with my readers.

Going back to where I was, I recently got to know about Techo, a youth led non-profit organization present in Latin America & the Caribbean. According to Techo website, this NGO seeks to overcome poverty and exclusion through the joint work of families living in slums with youth volunteers. Techo (‘Roof’) is built everyday to provide transitional houses for families living in these unacceptable conditions. The organization is financed through different alliances with companies, international cooperation, individual monthly donors, and through various fundraising campaigns and events. Aside from promoting community development in slums, Techo fosters social awareness and action in order to increase awareness of necessary structural changes and decrease poverty in the community.

Techo personal nail

In August 2012, Techo came up with an innovate idea to reward those who donate their time, energy and effort to construct homes for the underprivileged. These included Techo volunteers (young people, mostly college students, who come to work with families in slums), Techo friends (individual monthly donors) and other funding alliances. The organization printed nails used in the actual construction with the name of Techo friends and volunteers. Donors received an image of ‘their’ nail and could then see the place where the house was built on the website. Through this reward, Techo manifested its true appreciation to the donors and how the organization values each individual’s help. This way, the supporters understand where their donations went to and how those were actually used to help in more realistic terms. This provides the donors the feeling that their urge to change the reality is being recognized and valued individually, which will eventually keep the donors more personal and fulfilled. Making the brand more personally attached to customers is a key in gaining loyal customers and leading to successful business results and it seems like Techo completely “nailed” it.

I’m not calling for any demanding social move or life-changing action, but just to know that there are people making efforts to create some change in society is definitely a good thing. If people can easily go with the flow when changes in season, environment, technology and so many other things are made, being part of this change even through a simple care would not hurt us. All I want on one fine day of March 2013, a time of changes, is that I just hope to see more uplifting and heartwarming ideas before these green shoots turn to falling leaves.


Recently I’ve been to some museums and musical recitals that seemed to advance quality of my life. Although I’m not particularly artsy, I’ve always enjoyed going to art-related events. I like the fact that an artistic piece in any form, unlike fixed formulas and theorized laws, allows the audience to feel and breathe with the work beyond mere understanding of how one “should” look at the given piece in order to get to that one right solution. All of the related factors come together to play important roles in the process of art appreciation: physical and emotional status, personal history, social, cultural and political stories of the time and so much more of both the audience and the artist. This might sound risky because, then, every art work has the possibility of misinterpretation based on one’s own tools of appreciation. But this precarious nature of art makes it even more awesome; the artist, with his own artistic style, places subtle hints within the piece in order to get his original intention across to the audience. The artist is aware of those multiple factors audiences are exposed to, so he tries to convey his message through diverse layers, adding depth to its texture.

Its complex nature calls for harder work on artist’s side since he’s got to communicate his message along with these various factors. He, therefore, thinks about and expects many possible circumstances in which his audience meets his work. This sophisticated, up to the point that it sometimes becomes pain in the ass, thought process, I feel, is somehow similar to that of advertiser’s. Advertisers think “a lot” about “so much” in order to create the advertisement that will communicate to the viewer’s heart. It is especially difficult today with well-informed and ever-fast audiences. Advertisers take a lot of things into consideration when designing the marketing campaign because of the technologically and intellectually overexposed audiences and their higher level of satisfaction. A lot of accurate and in-depth research about so much factors are needed for advertisers to understand and target the right audience and painful days of brainstorming continue to find one powerful message that will blow customers’ minds away, followed by fancy execution. The advertisers, with creative advertising idea, include all the research findings and other factors within the executed work in order to bring maximum satisfaction to today’s hard-to-please audiences.

This personal realization of the similarity between art and advertising was initially conceptualized and later meditated even further during my visit to ICA. One of the recent exhibitions in the ICA, or the Institute of Contemporary Art, is entitled “This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s“. According to ICA, it’s “an ambitious presentation that represents the diversity and complexity of art produced during the 1980s offering a historical overview while situating our contemporary moment within the history of art of the recent past.” The art produced in the 1980s depicted transformative and tumultuous time of the history, and thus, a lot of them were radical and conservative, capricious and political, socially engaged and historically aware.

While going through the art of the 1980s, I could see how a lot of them were actually more than just an art; those were significant advertising pieces. Most of the exhibited pieces were very vocal and its artists cleverly delivered political, social, or any other strong messages through aesthetics. The art of 80s was not just for the mere appreciation of beauty portrayed in the piece; rather, it was a form of advertising, or the propaganda advertising to be more specific. The aesthetic of the 1980s art sparkled even brighter with the forthright messages of artists who wanted to be a part of the change through their works.


Seeing these inspiring exhibits, I wanted to coin a term that describes the art that functions as advertising or vice versa: Artvertising. Art that speaks more than just the beauty, and advertising that embellishes more than just the message.


After all, it is up to the audience whether to appreciate the art as the artist originally intended and add his own opinion afterwards or to look at it from a completely different angle with fresh perspective. The work leaves the room for your own appreciation and that’s the beauty of art I love. I just hope to see an advertising piece that brags its artistic beauty sometime soon in the midst of “oh c’mon, not again man!” advertisements of the day. The true art that’s from 1980s.

Never be Powerless

Few weeks ago, I was enjoying my Tall Americano and fun chat with my friends at Starbucks. Then, we all began to wonder what the black circle on the table was for. It seemed like something that we’ve never seen before in usual Starbucks scene. My friends and I thought it was a mini electric stove for hot coffees to stay warm in preparation for upcoming winter, and we were being touched by how thoughtful Starbucks was for its customers. I placed my Americano on the black dot for some time without worrying about it getting cold, continued having fun with my friends, and even gave them a short marketing lecture on how good Starbucks has been doing their branding job. After giving thrilled speech about Starbucks and its efforts in providing high customer satisfaction, I grabbed my coffee and my love for Starbucks began to fall apart; the Americano was so cold! It was then when we realized that the machine maybe was not actually the mini electric stove. Before losing my trust in the brand that I’ve praised for hours as if I actually own the company, I had to look up what it was really for by checking out the website written at the bottom part of the circle.

Ta-da! It was actually a wireless charging spot for smartphone. Duracell Powermat allows mobile devices to power up freely and wirelessly with its wireless case. Once the user enables the smartphone with a protective wireless case and places his phone at the wireless charging spot, or the Powermat, the mobile device simply begins to power up. At the moment, the Powermat is installed at very selective venues like 17 Starbucks stores in Boston area and Delta Sky Club in NYC at LGA and JFK. According to Adam Brotman, Starbucks Chief Digital Officer, the Powermat technology is built into some of the tabletops in order to get a sense for how the customers will react during this trial period, compared to having to plug their mobile devices into the wall. The wireless case can be purchased at their website for $34.99.

We will definitely have to see how the customers will feel about their 24/7 powered up smartphone as the charging spots increase in its available number and venue but it seems to be a good idea to keep one’s mobile device accessible anytime he needs. Especially during these days when people use smartphone for multiple personal and business tasks, being able to charge mobile devices easily and conveniently means a lot  for these two main reasons: 1) You don’t want to experience the panic of missing important phone calls or not being able to access certain mobile apps, and 2) Batteries run down real quick when using a lot of apps and you need more of them to keep working on something necessary. As long as the feasible action plan for its installation gets settled, I guess keeping the busy people powered up 24/7 isn’t so bad idea at all.

Lastly, this is the Duracell Powermat commercial. Stay powered up until I come back with another fun marketing story!

Stop (Quickly) & Shop (Easily) for Customuters

You’ve had a long day at the office. The only thing you want right now is to have delicious dinner, take a warm shower, and get ready for cozy bed in your home sweet home. In the midst of the perfect daydreaming, you suddenly remember that you need to pick up some cereals for tomorrow, and maybe some shampoo. Now with this added chore, your relaxing hours will be delayed and you will have to swing by the store on the way home. What a hard life.

With the new technology, however, you can simply use the short digital shopping aisle opened on some commuter rail station platforms. Peapod is an online grocery delivery service wherein the customers are provided the interactive grocery shopping services. As a wholly owned subsidiary of international food provider Royal Ahold, it works in partnership with Ahold USA supermarket companies including Stop & Shop and Giant Food. Adapting the use of QR code technology in online grocery services from Home Plus, the Tesco plc of Seoul, South Korea (You are more than welcome to read further about this successful case which I covered in last May), Peapod set up display advertisements that look like grocery store shelves filled with products from pasta to diapers have been installed at several commuter rail station platforms. Commuters with iPhones, iPads and Android phones can connect with Peapod’s online store by scanning a QR code, downloading an app and then scanning one of the items on display. You can also do a full shop from your electronic device. This is what I saw at the Canton Junction MBTA commuter rail station platform last month:

According to Peapod, the company and its national brand partners plan to focus on their target consumers. This campaign will run through 12 weeks, allowing enough time for its potential customers to place their orders. This program actually coincides with the launch of 100 virtual grocery stores in major metropolitan regions, including Boston, New York and Chicago, aimed at capturing the attention of the commuter who spends more than 200 hours a year in transit. Customers have access to more than 11,000 products on the Peapod app.

This conflation of new technology and marketing strategy has proven its success in South Korea and London, so Peapod will be able to see increase in sales, number of online customers, and revenues as long as they’ve marketed to the right target consumers in the most appropriate venue at the right time for the campaign to be noticed and reacted by the customers who commute, thus, “customuters”.

However, I have a little concern here before I actually wish all the best for Peapod with this new marketing campaign. Peapod, as we all know by now, is an “online” grocery delivery service. If your business is solely based on Internet, why would you make your website look like this:

I literally left the website and re-googled for Peapod twice, thinking it was not their official website. For businesses like Peapod where you only get to meet your customers in virtual space due to the nature of your business, you have to make your website more attractive and interactive for your users to enjoy their experience with your brand. I decided not to sign up for the service after seeing this boring website (and so I don’t know how prettier it gets for its own customers, but I’m not interested any further. Really.). Having a great marketing campaign running out there is really wonderful; but you’ve got to put some makeup on in order to attract more customuters who will come to see what you have, the only thing you have. It’s all on you to make your customers “stop & shut” instead of “stop & shop”.

The Most Charming Piece of All

It’s unusual Monday in Boston. Everybody stays at home, some working on their projects as they gained an extra day and others catching up with real-time news updates. Hurricane Sandy pummeled the East Coast and swamped some of the areas like New York. Most of the schools and workplaces closed today, and some remain closed for tomorrow as Sandy continues to move further. As I was stuck at home for the whole day, I had enough time to read articles and reflect on different ideas. I also was able to clean up my desktop folders full of photos, videos and songs. While deleting some unnecessary files, I saw some photos of my favorite celebrities. There were a lot of them and I always had a specific reason for loving a particular celebrity. For example, I like actor A for his deep eyes; I like Mr. B for his voice; I love actor C’s fashion taste; and so on and on. Right before I found that silly and was about to throw all of them to recycle bin, I thought of an idea. How would Mr. Perfect look like if I put all of what I like from each celebrity together? Would he really look the most handsome creature I have ever seen? Since I had the unexpected day-off, I decided to work on it a bit. And here’s what I’ve got:

Ta-da! Surprise surprise surprise. I didn’t feel like continuing to make it look even more realistic when I roughly put all the pieces together and realized how ugly this imaginary creature would end up look like. I got the eyes I loved, nose I liked, smile I wanted from my boyfriend, and the body I’ve always dreamed of; but, it’s just not right when all of them are in the same picture. Then I realized an important lesson: Everybody has his own charm in his own ways along with the rest of what he has, and his charm shines the brightest only when he is truly himself. There are many good stuffs out there that you want to possess, hoping that will leverage your value. But the truth is, that thing that you’re looking for so you would probably shine among the rest is actually found within yourself. It’s the matter of your realization and that moment of recognizing the true value of originality.

This actually applies to today’s marketers and advertisers as well. With continued development of technology and lifestyle of the consumers, there are so many awesome ways to approach the target market and plan creative marketing solutions to amaze them with. A lot of well-established companies use at least more than 5 communication channels to execute their marketing campaigns and they seem to be doing good. However, if you are having that much of ongoing marketing platforms just because everybody else is doing so, not fully realizing the need and function of each tool, you will end up ugly like the “supposedly” Mr. Perfect up there. I know it is tempting; but, think about your major marketing problem and define your own target market even clearer. Once you have enough of them, then, decide what specific marketing strategies through what particular communication channels will work in order to let the solution shine by approaching the right audience in the most appropriate sense. Social media, with its affordable cost and time-saving efforts, might seem the easiest and must-have tool for all companies of the day; but, if you plan to set up your account and just wait until your first visitor comments, “Is it really the official Twitter/Facebook account of the company?” you’d rather not create one. Anything you do with your company’s name on it, make sure to manage it professionally. Or else, don’t even be greedy about the other opportunities out there because it might not be a piece of the gem that you’ve been looking for; it might just be a trap to kill your brand. Do you want create the most amazing marketing solution? Stay original to your core charm and polish it with all your means to make it truly shine.

Oh Good Boy, Bring me what I need!

It’s October, or the end of October to be more exact. Temperature drops dramatically and sun sets faster day by day. As 2012 is running fast to reach its end, I recently tend to spend a lot of time on reflecting and evaluating the year and making a list for the upcoming year. Reflecting upon the marketing trends of 2012 and reading some related articles here and there, I definitely agreed with Trendwatching‘s coverage for this month about the “Servile Brands” and thought it might be good to digest this healthy piece of information.

As the term “servile” clearly explains, the October’s trend briefing talks about brands that serve, assist and lubricate and how they are differentiated by doing so. Consumers of today can be described in following ways: 1) On demand; 2) Time-starved; and 3) Informed. With the richness of available information and digital utilities, people crave for brands that can empower them or offer them the freedom and flexibility to make the most of urban life. They expect the best of the online world wherein those online data become built-in to their offline experiences. At the same time, the abundance and increasing material affluence in consumer economies has led to an increasing feeling of being time-starved. Customers are demanding tools and services to help them get the most from the present moment, however brief. It’s all about the “Instant gratification and ultra-convenience”. Lastly, consumers increasingly turn to other consumers (family, friends, other users). Brands can no longer control their image, or perceived brand image through media channels.

In this market situation, then, brands need to do extra good job to please customers in ways they can’t even imagine. To further understand this servile attitude observed among the brands, the article lists down some key factors. Servile is:

  • Letting customers try out first
  • Helping customers monitor anything
  • Helping customers find anything real-time
  • Helping customers understand everything real-time
  • Being there when customers truly need you, even if they didn’t realize it yet
  • Picking up where the government isn’t
  • Helping customers save money
  • Helping customers start the day pleasantly
  • Helping customers to make the most of it
  • Bringing customers recommendations that actually make sense
  • Making things more seamless for customers

Among these, I personally thought it is really important for brands to offer customers recommendations that actually make sense to them. In many cases, brands provide alternative choices and recommendations in order to continue telling consumers about how great the products and services they’ve got. It is usually not from consumer’s point of view. That’s why offering recommendations that actually make sense to the buyers, I believe, make the brand truly pertinent to its users.

Hellmann’s mayonnaise has been established in the Brazilian market for a period of time. Although it’s been quite successful with the running slogan, “Hellmann’s, a verdadeira maionese” (Hellmann’s, the true mayonnaise), the company wanted to increase its point of sales as this has been their major marketing challenge and change people’s perception of mayonnaise. A lot of people generally think mayonnaise is mainly for sandwiches in Brazilian context, and so it was hard for the company to motivate the customers to continuously purchase the product. The brand decided to take advantage of the moment when its customers had all the right ingredients at their hands, thus came up with the idea of “Hellmann’s Recipe Receipt”. In May 2012, Hellmann’s offered recipes tailored to the ingredients the shopper had just purchased. Custom software was installed in cash registers at Brazilian supermarket chain St. Marche. When a shopper bought a jar of Hellmann’s mayonnaise, the cash register recognized this and generated a custom recipe based on the mayonnaise and the other ingredients that were purchased, automatically printing this on the receipt. Instead of just providing some random recipe with Hellmann’s mayonnaise, this idea made it more personal and easier for each customer to use the mayonnaise with what she has just bought, making the whole brand experience more relevant. This marketing campaign for three months increased its sales by 44% and they are currently thinking of expanding its campaign to continue its sales revenue growth.

Check out the YouTube video for Hellmann’s Recipe Receipt with St. Marche

Of course, not all brands need to be servile. Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton or the dominant brand of the industry like Starbucks and Apple can definitely survive without this servile attitude. If you are not Louis Vuitton, Apple or anywhere closer to those giant conglomerates, make sure to double check that you are actually putting the basic principle of successful marketing into an action. As we all learned from our Marketing 101 classes, customers are the king and they own the brand. Like what Trendwatching says, it’s not about telling your customers that you are important, and they can have a slice of you if they pay for it. Instead, it’s about telling customers: “Whatever you need or want, we’re here to help” or even better, “We know what you want, we’ve already done if for you.” And to you, Mr. Marketer-of-the-day, servile brands means thinking about creating marketing that isn’t marketing. Don’t just keep pushing your customers, hoping that they will like it eventually. It’s better to start from the beginning if you don’t receive the expected feedback from them. To be more frank, restarting might hurt you less than rubbing your customers the wrong way.

Creativity Unbound

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit one of the well-known advertising agencies in the town. Most of advertising and marketing majors in Boston, including myself, hope to work in this agency for its excellence in creative execution and originality in its works. Although the office was empty by the time I visited with my friend who actually works in the company, I could still feel the exciting atmosphere alive within the environment. Without further ado, let me proudly introduce the “Unbound” and the “Different” creative office of Mullen.

Pingpong table, game machines, gigantic posters, white boards with scribbled notes, ongoing projects, individual desks full of inspirational toys and art pieces, refrigerator filled with sodas and beers, fresh coffee bar with real barista, laid-back jazz song flowing in the office and much more attractive things were existing in Mullen. I honestly wanted to record and take photo of every amazing idea I saw in the office; but I chose to limit myself to the most inspiring ones to respect the privacy and right of the agency. Like how Mullen explains its work philosophy in its website, the agency remains unbound by strategically controlling the creative idea and technology in order to amplify the potential of its mixture. Also, I could observe how the agency is striving to “make its clients’ brands a productive part of consumer lives and to make spending time with those brands worthwhile” through its user-focused idea from the ideation process to the execution of projects.

The effort Mullen exerts in understanding the consumers is continuously reminded in the workplace, so that this important concept actually gets embedded in every process as the team works on a specific project. A lot of other inspiring and encouraging quotes from creative thinkers and innovative movers are inscribed on large walls of the office. Keeping the essential concept refreshed and reiterated every moment, I guess, becomes part of the successful advertising solutions Mullen provides to its client, directed solely on the marketing value the users and consumers can agree upon while experiencing.

This is the creative department at night when almost everybody in the building has left and the only things that keep the place flowing are the relaxed jazz song and the graceful dim light. The workplace which has been really busy and loud all day is now peacefully resting. It looks warm and still; but it’s also the place where every passionate and creative soul of Mullen has been laboring days and years to deliver the excellent pieces of advertising campaigns for its clients. That’s why the place looked sexy to me that night. Although I didn’t stay that long in the office, the whole experience has truly inspired me once again as an advertiser and I could feel my heart pumping really fast for what I’ve been dreaming for.

(My friend is the one on the middle of the sketch wall at the creative department. All of the designers in the department are asked to draw themselves and they will be place on the wall and be part of the team.) Lastly, I thank my friend for this wonderful learning moment. It absolutely encouraged me to challenge myself further for great agency like Mullen. Like what Jim Morrison said, “A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.” This night at Mullen, I was able to remember who I was and whom I want to be, being totally free to be myself.

Gangnam Marketer Style

My little confession before anything else is that I really didn’t want to write about this phenomenal hit of “Gangnam Style” if my nationality becomes the only reason for this post. I’ve read tons of explanations about the song and its artist PSY, including one of the most influential articles from the Atlantic. (If you haven’t read this until now, it’s time to know this. You heard the song at least once.) It was amazing how logically the article goes about the hidden messages that I, as a Korean and the resident of Gangnam area, did not even realize when listening to the song. However, seeing how the song continues its fame and makes PSY the “Cool guy from South Korea” covered in mainstream media in the U.S., I think there maybe something marketers could learn.

So why did Gangnam Style succeed in the American and European markets where better looking Korean-Pop boy and girl bands failed? Non-Koreans do not understand the lyrics but they go crazy with its beat and the horse-riding dance. There might be many other reasons why the song succeeded, but I wouldn’t talk about the musical and lyrical aspects since I’m not the expert. I believe Gangnam Style benefited from the amplified power of social networks. The official M/V of the song got almost 200 million clicks and famous musicians like T-Pain and Britney Spears tweeted about the Psy phenomenon. Unlike the previous Youtube where mostly the amateur videos with user-created content were uploaded, Youtube today serves as an important part of social network marketing for many global conglomerates. A lot of people and the potential customers come to Youtube because: 1) it’s free and legal; 2) it has the enormous library of music and video files; 3) It’s easily linked to other social channels like Twitter and Facebook; but most of all, they all visit Youtube to communicate with other users and update himself with the new trend. YG Entertainment, the company PSY belongs to, created official channel for Gangnam Style in Youtube in order to make sharing easier for everybody. Instead of insisting on copyright and staying solely on TV, this platform allowed lots of users to create spoofs of Gangnam Style, speeding up its widespread even faster.

Aside from the user-friendly platform, the content of Gangnam Style attracted global listeners. The repeated music style, upbeat rhythm, and pathetic looking guy playing the main role definitely won the hearts of its fans. PSY actually paid a lot of attention to choose the most pathetic looking footages among the rest. Some parts of the lyrics are really catchy, completing all the components to succeed in viral media. At the same time, the power of network worked strongly in the process as influential celebrities like Scooter Braun, the founder of Justin Bieber, and Tom Cruise mentioned about Gangnam Style in Twitter and Facebook. Lastly, a lot of viewers could access and enjoy the song through TV, computer and mobile devices. There were a lot of handy and convenient terminals available for people to get reminded of the PSY fame. The content might be good; but it cannot survive without supporting platform, network, and the terminal. PSY’s Gangnam Style, then I guess, seemed to do well in all of these four categories.

The moment I first thought of writing about Gangnam Style is when I saw this amazing parody by A.P.T. (thanks to my good friend). I was surprised how this viral song from some foreign land can actually be used for political uses. I’m definitely not supporting for any side since I don’t even have a right to vote here but I’m amazed by how social media changes our lives so much with its ever growing power. For that, let me share this parody by A.P.T. called “Vote Obama Style”.

I was extremely happy when the DJ from my friend’s wedding reception played Gangnam Style as the last song for the night’s dance floor and all the visitors went crazy with cheesy horse-riding dance and murmuring the lyrics in their classy suits and dresses. My friends seemed proud to have me (or maybe not) since I was the only person who can rap out the lyrics perfectly. Well, I guess it’s not bad to be honest and it seems like I might be writing as a Korean.