Q&A: Dong Jin Son – ‘The Purpose of Advertising is to go Further’

As the Founder & CEO of Seoul-based Krema Worldwide, Dong Jin Son bring nearly two decades to the job having worked with a global client list that includes LG Electronics, Samsung Mobile, Disney Korea, Doosan, and Lotte.

Along with his role as CEO, Son also dons the hat of Creative Director, a position that has seen him earn accolades from top international award competitions including New York Festivals, The One Show, Epica Awards, Ad Stars, and the AME Awards, where he sits as a juror for the upcoming event.

Son began his career at Cheil Worldwide in Seoul in 2001, where he honed his creative chops before setting out on his own with the launch of Krema Worldwide in 2009.


We recently caught up with Dong Jin Son to get his take on creating and delivering creative and effective results, the campaign he’s most proud of, his all-time favorite ad, and his upcoming role at the AME awards.

Tell us about your process of creating and delivering creative and effective results. Are your ideas inspired or do they come together as the result of a collective brainstorming session with your team?

Today, most campaigns and films are being consumed on digital platforms. Our internal brainstorming process for developing ideas begins with an analysis of target customers’ behavior in the digital environment.

We analyze keywords from the data – “What’s the point of interest of consumers? And what kind of advertising activities can make a buzz? At the same time, by examining owned media that the client currently manages, we check whether the concept and message of creatives directly link to the right call to action. To conduct this process, we should accurately determine the purpose of advertising based on accurate KPIs.

It means good creative is not just for everybody, but for the actual target audiences.  We call it a ‘creatives that work’ which is efficient and effective.


As a strategic creative, what stand-out attributes do you recognize in award-winning creative and effective advertising? What do ads that have taken the brief and turned it into a campaign that transforms opinions, evokes action and raises the bar for the brand have in common?

Strategic advertising can be judged whether it actually makes consumers act. And the ‘act’ is to Increase the amount of consideration of purchase, so-called ‘social engagement’.

Creative strategies are also changing to improve the performance of advertising. For example, let’s look at the “Dead Whale” campaign, ranked high at AME in 2018. It’s about how creators see environmental problems.

Good creative is not just for everybody, but for the actual target audiences.  We call it a ‘creatives that work’ which is efficient and effective.

More and more people around the world are realizing the dangers of plastic in the ocean. To make people act, the campaign has broken the boundaries of the media. By creating the brilliant idea of plastic whale sculpture, it made people talk about the subject, and led to create unprecedented social actions in the digital world.

Why are effectiveness competitions like the AME Awards important?

In the digital age, traditional advertising is losing its ground. Consumers’ patience has weakened and their resistance to advertising has intensified. That is, the commercial sensitivity of advertising has increased, and paradoxically, if the message of advertising is authentic, their royalties get higher than they used to be.

Clients sometimes clash with creators because their top priority is always on the ‘efficiency’.

The purpose of advertising is to go further and to create brand advocates, and I think it is the core value that AME pursues. This is consistent with where recent advertising marketing should be headed. It encourages all the ad men worldwide to be competitive.

What do you hope to learn by viewing entries into the competition?

As a Juror of AME, one meets the latest trends in terms of marketing efficiency. It is a great pleasure to see creative for the first time that hadn’t come out into the world. Moreover, it helps to know trends and ideas. Simply speaking, AME’s jury is an inspiration to me.

What is your all time, favorite most creative and effective ad and/or ads and why did they triumph?

The Field trip to Mars project, which became the talk of the global advertising festival in 2016, is one of my all-time favorites. I see great campaigns have always combined technology with humanism.

It improved the image of a munitions company, Lockheed Martin. At the same time, it achieved its goal of being a future-oriented and a warm corporate image.

Also, it very smartly incorporated the latest trend of VR technology in delivering the idea. This is consistent with what the Fourth Industrial Revolution was aiming for. When our concerns about humanity are combined with the latest technologies, people become more interested.

These kind of creatives are at the crossroads of the International Advertising Festivals. It even creates new fields. In this point of view, I think it’s an exemplary project

In your personal work what are the hallmarks of creative and strategic success? What campaign or campaigns are you most proud of?

I can count ‘LG OLED Aurora Campaign’ that was done in 2016 directed by me. This campaign combined offline events, videos, social promotions, digital media, and technological installations.

It was LG Electronics’ (TV products) first integrated marketing. By keeping cold technology warm appealing universal human emotions, it increased consumers’ social engagements.

The brief story goes; A concept of the clear night sky without light pollution was reflected in 40 absolute black panel TVs with no light flashing, called “Lights out, Stars on.”

All the stakeholders who participated in this campaign were voluntary. As a result of the campaign, the market share of LG TV, which fell behind the competition increased, purchases have increased in key target regions. It is said to have greatly increased brand awareness.

What advice or guidelines would you give to potential entrants on earning an AME Award?

Creative ideas by themselves are hard to distinguish superiority. How much does a campaign raise social awareness levels, and how much performance do you get from the owned media of brand?

Results should be shown based on actual KPI settings. It’s not just the number of YouTube views that matter. It must be about how much real performances has been achieved.

What is one secret of your success that no one knows about you?

The balance of the creative director is very important. I majored in literature and got a doctorate in art, I started my career as an account executive and am currently working as a creative director.

Clients sometimes clash with creators because their top priority is always on the ‘efficiency’. Read both artists’ and marketers’ minds and create a sweet spot for each other, I can say it’s a core ability. Keeping good partnerships by fulfilling the needs of clients, one should get artists to produce the greatest results within a given environment.

What philosophy or iconic individual inspires you in both your career and life?

Advertising is a profession that understands the world. Good results always come from deep observations of man and the world. While huge advances are made in media and technology, we should draw an insight into the core of ‘human’.

That’s why we should be philosophers, engineers and businessman at the same time. In this sense, if only one person were chosen, Steve Jobs inspires me most.

Picture of Gayle Seminara-Mandel

Gayle Seminara-Mandel

Gayle is the Executive Director of the AME Awards at New York Festivals.

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