Hunchul Chun, Founder, CEO and Executive Creative Director at AdQUA Interactive

Image: AdQUA Interactive

As Founder, CEO and Executive Creative Director of Seoul-based creative agency AdQUA Interactive (which he co-founded with Co-CEO Jeongkyo Seo), Hunchul Chun has overseen some of Korea’s most talked about ad campaigns, including Samsung Life’s “The Time Left to You” and the agency’s recent work with GS Caltex that sought to reduce verbal violence directed at call center workers in Korea.

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A graduate of Seoul’s Hanyang University, where he studied advertising and PR, Chun had previous stints with Oricom and Innocean Worldwide over the course of a creative journey that has seen him work with some of the world’s most recognizable global brands.


 

Branding in Asia recently spoke with Hunchul Chun about his campaign work, the Korean ad world and creating “tangible” results for brands doing business in Korea.


What have you been working on lately?

We are currently executing on & off-line campaigns for big-name brands such as Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut, Netflix and Nivea.

In the recent “Kind Words Ringback Tone” campaign for GS Caltex, what were some of the insights about the difficulties for call center workers that fueled you and your team to seek a creative solution?

We started from the “Hello Monday” campaign which was executed as a part of GS Caltex’s “I’m Your Energy” campaign. “Hello Monday” was being executed to energize people on Mondays to overcome Monday Blues based on the slogan “Joyful Monday Brings a Joyful Nation”.


 

We were inviting people to submit ideas to bring joy to Mondays through GS Caltex’s social channels. That’s when we saw a comment left by a call center employee.

According to the employee, the call center workers can overcome Monday Blues when they hear ‘kind words’ from customers, because Monday is the day when the highest number of calls are placed by customers who lose their patience after waiting during the whole weekend and whose emotions around their complaints became much more severe.

We wanted to come up with a way to go beyond bringing joy for just one day and resolve the situation fundamentally.

Did any of it surprise you?

Many of the mass media outlets have covered the social issues revolving around “emotional laborers” including call center employees for years. Although almost everyone in Korea is aware of their working circumstances and their human rights, no one, including even the governmental offices or departments came up with fundamental solution.

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We executed the campaign in order to break such conventionality. The “Kind Words Ring Back Tone” went beyond the territory of commercials and is still being actually used by GM Korea’s call center. Consumers who “experienced” the ringback tone in reality showed a change in their action, which resulted in a positive influence: protecting the human rights of the call center employees.

In summary, we discovered a message that challenged conventionality, went beyond the territory of commercials and approached customers with something tangible that could strongly affect them.

After release of campaign video, many companies inquired if they could utilize the solution as well. As a result, we added an archive of records utilized for the ringback tone to the media hub of GS Caltex which is the brand’s integrated channel for all kinds of companies, from small to big names, to download and utilize the ringback tone.

Talk about your creative process. What is your conceptual approach to bridging the gap between brands and consumers?

There are two characteristics of AdQUA Interactive which are our strengths. One is that it is an agency mainly focused on digital with conversion between each department actively occurring.

We create integrated and holistic communication solutions through communication between all departments (strategy, creative planning, designing, engineering, social media, platform, media planning, etc.) in order to connect brands with consumers.

In the process, we proactively utilize digital tools and try to deliver a tangible message.

We wanted to think of a way to go beyond bringing joy for one day and resolve the situation fundamentally.

For example, “The Time Left to You” for Samsung Life not only touched consumers’ emotions through the campaign video, but also delivered an experience of the brand message through the campaign site providing a “family time calculator.”

For the “Sync Camera” campaign for Pizza Hut, we created an application where consumers could compare the image of the product in advertisements with the photo of the product they purchased in order to build the credibility of the brand around the consumers who felt dissatisfied with the difference between the product image in commercials and the actual product they purchased.

Not every project can be communicated through “tangible” messages, but through such an approach, consumers are able to hold onto the message much longer and build a stronger connection with the brand.

What’s it like pitching creative ideas to clients and getting them to take a chance on your concepts?

It feels like standing naked in front of the clients. There are times when I feel confident as if I am very well shaped and also times when I feel the complete opposite.

Having seen other creative ad work outside of Korea, are there particular styles or creative content that is more likely to resonate with Korean consumers?

Korean consumers like funny, humorous, and touching commercials like all consumers in the world.

We try to create content that would bring an emotional touch and even a change of behavior in consumers rather than just delivering fun and empathy.

To talk about a particular style, although I would not like to admit as a creator, many of commercials drive interest or purchase by utilizing celebrities. For example, many brands would actively utilize Korean idol bands for their commercials.

In addition, because a lot of messages should be delivered in a relatively shorter period of time, most of commercials are based on extensive copywriting.

Considering the size of the economy, Korea’s ad work remains largely unrecognized by international award organizations in contrast to other countries in the Asia-Pacific. What are your thoughts on this?

I agree that Korean commercials are largely unrecognized and I believe it is because many of the commercials are based on copies and depend on the use of celebrities and it is hard for them to be recognized by international awards that place importance on creative works.

What is some work you’ve done over the course of your career that you are most proud of?

We tried to create content that would bring an emotional touch and even a change of behavior in consumers rather than just delivering fun and empathy.

I would say the work that I’m most proud of is “The Time Left to You” for Samsung Life.

Although many insurance brands have communicated the importance of family through their campaigns, there were not so many cases that brought actual change of behavior. We went beyond letting consumers recognize the value of time spent with their family to make them change their attitude and actually spend more time with their family.

The campaign was executed mainly with a viral video and campaign site. The viral video begins with the people who get diagnosed with terminal diseases. In the later part, it turns out the “time left for them” was the “time left for them to spend with their family.” Throughout the video, consumers recognized the value of family.

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On the campaign website, consumers could calculate how much time is left for them to spend with their family.

In other words, they experienced the moment when the message of the video became their own story. The campaign was viewed by over 10 million people, which is 1/3 of Korea’s Internet population, covered by over 100 news outlets, and resulted in various social movements.

 

 

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