“Anticipation” marketing in South-Korea – Taeyang’s SOLAR album launching campaign example

July 3, 2010 at 9:54 pm 1 comment

It seems that South-Korean advertisers are the kings of “anticipation” (or “teasing” ?) marketing.

After Hyundai’s “Shouting Korea” World Cup campaign (see here and here), that was launched gradually through teaser pictures and videos this past spring, summer kicks off strong with the following music campaign, promoting the first solo album (titled SOLAR) of singer Taeyang (from the group BigBang, featured in the Shouting Korea campaign).


Let’s start by pointing out that Taeyang is a member of a very famous band. He had already released a solo “mini-album” (titled “HOT”) back in 2008. The mini-album was met with a huge success, as well as the two following digital singles released in 2009. The other members of the group also did some solo activities (more or less, depending on each member), and all of them were successful, benefiting from the group popularity and each member’s own style. So, we are talking here about how the first “full” album (11 songs, 13 for the deluxe edition) of an already famous singer (but mostly famous for his group activities, from the eyes of the general audience) was promoted. The launching campaign can’t be the same as the ones made to promote new groups to the audience (although there are similarities).

Since the singer is already known by a part of the audience, his public image is important. And, in Taeyang’s case, his public image is one of a nice, hard-working and sensible hot young man.

So, what was done to promote his new album ?

The promoting campaign

Well, Korean entertainment companies love to create anticipation, so this campaign was all about continuously building anticipation until the release of the album. And it was (and still is) mostly an online campaign.

– In early June, rumors started to spread about a potential upcoming release of a new album by Taeyang. The news was later confirmed by his company.

– Then, the company launched a special website, on which they revealed the title of a song each day, up until the whole album songlist got complete.

At the beginning...

– And they didn’t stop here ! Then, the same way, the company put a minute-long audio extract of a song each day for the last week, up until the release of the album (on July 1st). Fans loved that ! This was a good way to have a first taste of the music.

The complete tracklist...

– All the while, anticipation was built around the title track through the release of pictures (including through Twitter) taken on the set of the shooting of the music video, featuring his best friend and fellow group leader G-dragon, as well as the popular singer and actress from the same company Sandara Park (therefore grabbing the interest from both boys and girls).

– On D-Day, Taeyang performed three of his songs on a special stage.

He is now starting the “promotion” phase of the launching of his solo album : live performances, interviews, probably talk shows, etc… (he talks a little about all these here)

Not just an album…

But there is also another aspect about this campaign : what was released on July 1st was the digital version of the album (available on pretty much every Korean online music platform), as well as the limited (30 000 copies) “deluxe” edition – the normal edition will only be released on July 12th !

Again, here, it was all about anticipation ! The entertainment company even put a special pop-up online a day before the release to tell at about what time the album was going to be available in stores (starting at 0:00 AM for the online downloading, 9:30-10:00 AM for the deluxe edition, both online and offline), and when the music video would be released (in the evening, during the first performance) so that eager fans could plan on when to storm in the stores !

When and where to get the deluxe edition...

The result ? The deluxe edition went out of stock almost as soon as it was released ! Anticipation was so high that it seemed really difficult to get one’s hand on the precious package ! And the songs have also met a huge success on legal downloading platforms.

Let’s talk about this deluxe edition. It is a special packaging, quite pretty apparently, and it contains bonuses : 2 more songs, a special packaging (compared to the normal edition), a special limited T-shirt, a 68 color picture book, a special autographed picture and a YG Family (the entertainment company) card with a special number to get cool presents through the website (including a free coupon to have the title song as the backgroung music of your cyworld page) and opportunities to take part in events this summer.

Content of the deluxe edition, as presented by the company on the website...

From having seen several special packages of Korean CDs, I can tell you they can make really pretty and shiny packagings ! It sure tempts you ! No wonder fans, with all this anticipation, rushed on this deluxe edition !

We’ll see if the success will last on the long term, but right now, this marketing strategy proved to be a huge success !

Except for …

… the music video.

A Music video had also been released (after a behind-the-scenes teaser – again !), but was oddly taken off from the official channels soon afterwards... Was it because the response was not good enough (including a part of the fans who didn’t like it, some even asking for it to be remade !) ? When will it be aired again ? Will it be changed ? We’ll see… Anyway, it was neither a dancing video nor a “music drama” video.

But there is also some kind of controversy about the choice of the title track : since it is quite different from what is usually released these days in mainstream Korean music charts (mainly dance groups or solo ballads), it seems to be disturbing for a part of the Korean audience. Some fans write that others songs would have been better suited as the title song… which is something the entertainment company had anticipated since it had stated in its press releases that the choice of the title track was unusual but that it was the artist’s choice and that people would like it after listenning to it…

This makes following this campaign quite interesting : on one part it is really successful, but there are a few points (basically, things that are “unusual”) that could lessen the success of the overall campaign.

Creativity vs downloading

I guess this whole “teasing marketing” widely used in South-Korea is at least partially due to the fact that music files can always be found for illegal downloading online as soon as the album is released (and even before sometimes : cases of songs that had been leaked to the public before the official release already happened !). This happens for different reasons, one being because the Hallyu reached people from all around the world, who can’t all buy in Korea and who are glad to find songs from their favorites artists any way they can. Although this company has started to make its artists’ new songs available through worldwide iTunes stores (starting this spring with a digital single from one of Taeyang’s bandmate) – in order to prevent too much illegal downloading, or because they noticed the international audience and needs ? – most companies don’t do so.

South-Korea, a country with high-speed Internet connection, is a country where downloading seems “normal” for young people. Thats’ probably why music albums are usually sold in beautiful packages, and in several editions (normal, deluxe, revised, …). Creativity is used to offer something more than music, so that people will by CDs. Nowadays, the CD isn’t enough. Performances are also a great way to please the fans and make money.

Such a campaign aims at reducing the negative effects of illegal downloading, by creating the desire for the fans to buy the album (either deluxe or not) through great packaging and special content (the normal edition offers a smaller photobook and a family card too). But it also tries to reach to non-fans through performances, support from other famous artists, …

This kind of strategies work real fine in South-Korea (and it also seems to work well in Japan). It shows once more that Internet is a great tool to promote an artist. Who still thinks Internet is bad for music (after other successful examples of different kinds, like artists discovered through MySpace, or the success of the French My Major Company) ?


Entry filed under: Marketing/Campaigns, South Korea. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Korea and the world – culture and entertainment – the Hallyu – part 2 : development Follow up : Taeyang’s SOLAR album launching campaign example, part 2

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