As the Creative Director of Cheil Worldwide, Jaehyuk Jang has been a driving force behind some of Korea’s most engaging creative ad work, ranging from Olympic star Kim Yuna’s acclaimed “Just Do It” spot for Nike several years back, to Chevrolet’s wonderfully endearing “The Next Spark” ad film released earlier this year.
Jang began his career back in 2000 as Art Director for Hyundai’s in house agency Diamond AD, before moving to Ogilvy Korea as a Creative Director in 2008. He joined Cheil Worldwide as Creative Director in 2011, where he has worked on the agency’s global creative campaigns for clients such as Samsung and Chevrolet.
Branding in Asia recently caught up with Jaehyuk Jang for a conversation about creativity, the Korean ad world and where today’s data-driven marketing might lead us in the future.
What have you been working on lately?
Recently, we created a film for Samsung TV launch in India with Cheil Worldwide India. Our concept was to bring Samsung beyond being the No. 1 TV brand in the Indian market, to become the most beloved brand among the people of India. The film will be on-air in early September.
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India is one of the top emerging markets following China. Therefore, it is a key market for Cheil Worldwide. Based on such circumstances, we put a lot of effort into this project. This resulted in effective collaboration between Korea and India which is meaningful for both the company and me.
Tell us about your creative process. Where and how do you find inspiration?
Frankly speaking, everyone knows about the strengths of the product. The client is far more aware of the product than an agency, and even the consumers have wide knowledge gathered from different channels.
What an agency needs to focus on is the special meaning that the product has for each individual rather than the information or strengths of the product. Would this product deliver an emotional connection to the consumers that goes beyond its functional benefits?
In my opinion, what an agency needs to focus on is the special meaning that the product has for each individual rather than the information or strengths of the product. Would this product deliver an emotional connection to the consumers that goes beyond its functional benefits?
It’s from trying to find answers to this question that the idea starts to develop.
For example, it is about searching for what a quality picture TV means to people. As you start to link technology with emotions, that picture-quality transforms into a connection between people, the sharing of feelings, and love. By constantly examining whether people can sympathize with it is how the idea is developed.
Since you’ve been in the industry, how has the role of creative changed in a more data-driven world?
I think this question falls into the topic that I spoke about recently at Ad Stars in Korea.
I would say the role of the creative has become stronger in a data-driven world. In a world where data has become copious and sophisticated, we can simply think that the marketing will become more systematic and automatic. However, this is not even close to being the case.
Creativity is evolving to become more sincere and emotional aside from the data. In the past, ads used a simple and persuasive approach with a metaphoric expression because of the time constraints. Now, we are free from time limit in that approach and we are focused on the story and forming a consensus has become the mainstream.
We do not know which technology will emerge in the future, but as technology develops, people will foster humanity at the same time. The only distraction is what will we do if AI develops a story that is more human? If data can analyze, develop and measure the effectiveness in areas where we thought is simply creativity, then we will need a whole new way of thinking.
It’s well noted that advertising in both Korea and Japan relies heavily on the use of celebrities, whereas the western model tends to highlight the “average Joe” storyline. What are your thoughts on this as a creative?
If you look at recent Korean ads by Samsung, they rarely use celebrities. Just five years ago, which celebrity would be Samsung’s brand spokesperson was a big deal.
In my opinion, when the brand lacks unique characteristic or the competition is fierce within the product category, the demand to use celebrity tends to grow. When you look at how a brand like Samsung and Hyundai do in the Korean market, they no longer need to utilize the image of celebrities.
However, Korean fried chicken restaurant chains are getting a lot of help from celebrity spokespeople. As more brands become stronger in Korea, campaigns that rely on celebrities will decline.
Yet, smart use of celebrities for long-term brand-building, rather than a one-time sales promotion will grow even more.
Expanding on the previous question, what does the data tell us? Do celebrities in ads resonate more strongly with Korean consumers or is this driven by brands?
As mentioned earlier, dependence on celebrities is much more related to the brand’s situation rather than regional characteristics.
Moreover, there is no need to view celebrity’s image in opposition to the brand’s image. It is only that we need to carefully review whether using a celebrity is helping the brand.
I hate ads that borrow the popularity from other categories that are irrelevant to the brand. Ads that utilize celebrities indiscreetly is one of example.
Celebrity models just smiling and saying “delicious” will dwindle as the brand becomes stronger, but dependence on celebrity will grow in sportswear, cosmetics, luxury products categories.
Isn’t Nike one of the world’s top brands and a brand that uses the most celebrities? It’s the same in Korea, the use of celebrities would rather become smarter than used less.
What are some trends in Korean advertising that you are fond of?
Now Korean ads are reflecting a sentiment that is unique to Korea. Ads from each country project the country’s own emotion. UK ads have that have a peculiar cynical humor. US ads are rational. Thai ads are humorous.
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Korea has a unique emotion that we call “Jeong” – a special kind of human affection. It is a distinctive communal mind of being considerate to people around you and having strong emotional ties together.
Such heart-warming stories based on this emotion are communicated to people through ads. The Chevrolet Spark campaign which we did recently is in line with this. This is not some trend that will suddenly disappear.
As the economy and culture of Korea mature, there are a growing number of campaigns that contain this Korean sentiment.
How about some trends you don’t like?
Ads usually have high acceptance. People tend to imitate or copy anything that is popular. However, I doubt whether the results will be effective. I hate ads that borrow the popularity from other categories that are irrelevant to the brand. Ads that utilize celebrities indiscreetly is one of example.