When stars talk, consumers watch ― their mobile phonesMobile phone companies are turning to big-name Korean celebrities to help sell their new models, driving sales and creating growth in an ever-competitive market.
It’s a simple ploy, but it works. When consumers see their favorite star with a particular model, they want it too, so much so that companies report sales are three times higher for so-called “star phones” than regular models.
With names such as the “Hyo Lee Phone,” “BoA Phone,” “Kim Tae-hee Phone” and “Kwon Sang-woo Phone,” marketers have determined the appeals lies with “Generation 1020,” those who are in their teens and 20s. Research has shown they are easily swayed by advertisements featuring celebrities. Having a phone named after a celebrity makes a brand easier to remember and more “sexy” than a simple numerical model name.
With prolonged pre-launch promotion drives to build up interest in newer models, the clever tactic has driven mobile phone sales.
“Hyo Lee Phone”― V420 from Samsung
Samsung Electronics has been creating star phones for all its latest models since December 2003, when it chose Lee Hyo-lee as the advertising model for its new V420 phone. Lee was breaking into the limelight at the time, a sort of Korean version of Jennifer Lopez, and the commercial was a big hit.
“We were sure another nickname would crop up for the phone, and we never expected the 1020 generation to coin the term ‘Hyo Lee phone,’” an official at Samsung Electronics said. “We certainly never expected this kind of a phenomenon to become a rising trend.”
After the name spread over the Internet and became common, Samsung decided last August to use Lee again for its V540 slide phone, which it also marketed as a “Hyo Lee phone.” It sold 200,000 units in just three months.
“Kwon Sang Woo Phone” ― V440 from Samsung
Samsung’s V440 was launched in June last year as the “Kwon Sang-woo Phone,” and 150,000 were sold in less than two months, almost three times more than the regular Anycall model.
One of its selling points is a 2- megapixel camera module that produces images equal in quality to those of most digital cameras, an auto focus function and a removable memory chip.
“Oh My God Phone” ― KP3400 from LG Electronics
LG Electronics Cyon’s “Oh My God Phone” came after the use of the song “Oh My God” in advertising its KP3400 model released last October.
Jang Yoon-jung, who was on the fringes of stardom, sang the song and was catapulted into the mainstream as a result of the advertisement.
Parallel to her rising fame, sales of the “Oh My God Phone soared, reaching 280,000 as of last month and 75 percent more than other LG models over the same period.
“Kim Tae Hee Phone”― SV520 from LG Electronics
LG Electronics has recently released the “Smart Kim Tae-hee Phone” as a follow up to its predecessor released last December.
The name was chosen by LG because the actress Kim Tae-hee, who appeared in advertisements for the phone, is also a student at Seoul National University, considered one of Korea’s strongest schools.
The phone has an MP3 player with a large memory and a camera with a built-in flash unit. An internal antenna contributes to the overall slim design of the phone.
“Park Shin Yang Phone” ― PG-K6500 (from Pantech and Curitel)
Pantech had a lot of help from the star effect after the character played by Park Shin-yang in last year’s popular weekend drama “Lovers in Paris” used the PG-K6500 model during the show.
His name was immediately picked for the phone, and thanks to this strategic placement about 200,000 were sold at the rate of 1,000 a day over 10 months at the Yongsan Electronics Market alone.
“BoA Phone” ― P-1 from Pantech and Curitel
Pantech’s P-1 model cell phone is named after the famed singing sensation BoA who appeared in the commercials for the phone. She emphasized that the phone was designed primarily for women users, who picked up over 170,000 of the 300,000 ($295) won “BoA Phones” in just seven months.
by Lee Hee-sung
with additional reporting by Intern, Lee Min-seok.