Alex Kwon, creative director of Cheil Worldwide Korea, says agencies working in Korea have to understand the key facets of local lifestyles and adapt their campaigns accordingly.
Chief among these lifestyle traits is the Korean penchant for 'busy-ness', Kwon (pictured) said on the opening day of Spikes Asia 2011. "Koreans are always super-busy," he told the 800-strong audience at the festival. "(They) spend most weekdays being busy working (and) they spend most of their weekend being busy resting."
With such business comes a level of impatience, and businesses need to ensure they deliver what they promise, fast.
Kwon's presentation, entitled 'Korea, All the Way: How to survive in the advertising world in Korea', offered a key case study of Cheil's virtual store campaign for retailer Tesco Homeplus. This won a media Grand Prix award at Cannes this year. Based on the premise that Koreans had little time for grocery shopping - which makes increasing market share without building new stores a difficult prospect - Cheil created a virtual Homeplus store in a key Seoul subway station.
The key station throughfares were transformed into supermarket shelves, with 2-dimensional images of all products available, each with their own QR code that consumers could scan on to their smartphones. Visually, this was similar to a subway campaign that Cheil and Tesco had done previously, but the virtual store added an important key element. Through a corresponding smartphone application (available on both Apple and android operating systems), commuters were able to make purchases of items, for delivery from a physical Tesco store to their home.
"Homeplus were able to meet more customers, in more places, without having to build more outlets," Kwon said.
Kwon also discussed the significance of Hallyu - or 'Korean wave'. This represents the new star power that Korean celebrities are building up locally, and around the Asian region, with some celebrities even gaining recognition in the US market and Western Europe markets.
This has been applied in Cheil's Haru campaign for the Korean Tourism Organisation, which featured a range of well-known Korean faces in a series of interactive drama episodes based on the idea of "an unforgettable day in Korea".
Whatever campaigns are being considered, Kwon advised creatives to ensure they are targeted at Korea's unique demographics and lifestyle. "Think, act, and talk like a Korean," was his key piece of advice to the Spikes Asia 2011 audience.