For a long time now, advertisements have been used as a strategic tool to promote product awareness and strengthen brand preference, thereby boosting sales, as well as to foster customer loyalty by building customer relationships. Indeed, the American Marketing Association (AMA) defines advertising as an activity to introduce products (ideas, services, organizations, individuals) or boost sales via information-transmitting media. Thus, the primary goal of advertising can be said to be delivering information to people for a particular purpose.
These days, successful commercials, both at home and abroad, are evolving from companies unilaterally informing consumers about a product ("telling type") to those in which consumers voluntarily participate in the spreading of the message ("passing along type"). Thanks to the spread of digital technology, consumers can now actively choose and edit information they want and even control the messages carried by commercials. Flooded by commercials via various media channels, consumers are no longer so easily influenced by them as they were in the past. Accordingly, various innovative ways of advertising are emerging to capture consumer appeal. In other words, characteristics of Web 2.0 (i.e., openness, sharing and participation) are also appearing in the advertising industry. The digital, internet era is demanding a new role of advertising as a means of communication.
This report takes a look at recent, popular Korean commercials to identify current trends in advertising and considers their implications for corporate management. This is possible as advertisements are not simply strategic tools for businesses, but a window into society, and so can be used to deepen our understanding of a country's social fabric. At the same time, successful commercials can act as a powerful means to bring about changes in society.
Commercials = New Entertainment
A notable change has occurred in how the public perceives TV commercials: they are no longer considered just a method of information delivery, but also have become a source of enjoyment. In the past, commercials were a nuisance to consumers, considered meaningless images to be endured between program segments. The terms "zapping" and "zipping" were coined to represent consumers' propensity to avoid commercials as much as possible.
Today, many viewers enjoy commercials in and of themselves for their artistic value and trendy and humorous plots. For instance, there are websites where netizens can view current and past commercials at their leisure. One of the more frequented sites, TVCF (www.tvcf.co.kr), replays commercials and provides information about models, voice actors, music download services and advertisement reviews. Also, Naver, Korea's largest portal site, recently created "AD CAST," indicating how the current trend in advertising has become a part of cultural content.
Also, consumers have gone beyond their traditional parodying of commercials by spending their time actually producing, editing and criticizing commercials. For example, a Kookmin Card commercial "Take it out, it has too many benefits to keep it in your wallet" used the basic concept, copy, and music all of which came from a UCC (User Created Content) contest. This is a prime example of how consumers are increasingly participating in the production of commercials, and reflect the public's increased interest in advertising. Also, SK Telecom's "Thinking in T" campaign, the biggest hit commercial in 2008, was used as the foundation for various UCC, where consumers incorporated the commercial's song into their own creative concepts.
Maeil Dairy's 2007 commercial for its bananaflavored milk called "The Banana was Originally White," which used UCC-type style filming, raised product sales four-fold, as the realitybased content gained popularity among consumers. The commercial, referred to as "Manager Baek's …