Art-house flick or commercial? Advertisers blur the boundary

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Art-house flick or commercial? Advertisers blur the boundary


Cameras flashed. Reporters popped questions. Was it a flock of Korean movie stars? Partly. It was the director Park Gwang-hyeon, the actor Kim Ju-hyun and the Australian actress Sarah Pope.
Everything looked like a typical scene from a press screening for a film. Don’t expect a mult-theater release, however: The film was a 10-minute advertisement for Kia Motor.
Kia is not the first company to use long, cinema-quality advertisements. More companies are now hoping to turn advertisements into cinematic events, what they call “ad movies.”
The ad for Kia’s new Lotze sedan was packed with car chases, a handsome hero and devious villains. Kim plays a secretive agent code-named “L,” who can steer his car using only mental commands. While being chased by the bad guys, he begins to lose his memories. He then escapes from his enemies and recovers his memory.
“The pictures and the scenario used in the ad were movie-quality,” said Park Jeong-mi, a manager at Innocean, the advertisement company for the Lotze.
Kia was merely following a format when it held a press screening for its new commercial. A few months ago, Samsung held a screening at a posh Cheongdam-dong club to introduce an advertisement for its Anycall service, called “Anyclub.” The ad was designed to look like a music video.
“Movie ads” rely on more than length and technology to foster the illusion of cinema. Many use techniques more common to art-house films than to television.
For instance, KTF created an ad movie titled “Mega phone.” In it, the company used techniques common to documentary films. A young man stands in the middle of a street in Myeongdong, central Seoul. He clutches a megaphone in his hand, and then presses it to his mouth, screaming “Let's go wild!”
According to the regular format for television commercials, the young man would have been staring at the camera. The ad’s director, however, concentrated on filming the reactions of confused passersby, using eight 16 millimeter cameras rolling from different directions.
“We are flooded with [ad requests] and many clients want their commercials to be better than the last ones,” said Jang Seung, a team head at Welcomm, an advertising company. “So each ad becomes more movie-like, or more like a television drama.”
“The trend is expected in the long run to effectively end the conventional concept for advertisements,” Mr. Jang said.
Many of these ads are not created solely to be broadcast on television, however. Because of the time limit (usually 15 seconds on television), many of the ads are intended to be released on the Internet.
“It is not what we deliver that is important anymore in ads,” said Kim Tae-hae, a department head at Cheil Communications, another advertising firm. “It’s now how we deliver this message. Because viewers don’t care to look at things that aren’t new.”

by Jung Hyun-mok
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