Actions speak louder than words for new generation of commercialsPerhaps audiences have grown tired of grandiose advertising copy and stylish visuals. Instead, many television commercials these days tend to use exaggerated body movements to draw attention to products.
As part of this trend models run and tumble like acrobats and use their bodies to depict the features of everything from phones to health insurance. For example, in a commercial for Cyon’s mobile phone, the actress Kim Tae-hee recites “Monk Dance,” a poem by Cho Ji-hun, as she hangs from an iron bar. Then, at the line “she carefully folds like a butterfly’s wing,” Kim wraps her body around the iron bar.
“We decided her actions could resemble an image of our fold-away phone as a way of directly showing the product’s function,” says an official at Creative Air, a local advertising firm who produced the commercial.
A cell phone commercial for Anycall, in which a famous pop diva twisted the chin of her male partner so that he looked noble, was another another way of using a bodily action to represent a product’s function, in this case the ease with which users could adjust the angle of the product’s screen. An earlier advertisement by the same company featured people hanging horizontally from trees and electric poles to stress the horizontal shape of their phones.
These commercials sometimes become very abstract. A commercial for KTF, for example, featured a female model who somersaulted over to a man and asked whether he uses a KTF phone. When the man shakes his head, she looks sad and somersaults over to somebody on the other side of the street. The image is designed to encourage people to change their phone company to KTF.
A commercial for OK Cash Bag is another example. It shows an actress being put in an ambulance in shock after learning that the company offers surprisingly good benefits.
Critics say Korean commercials have begun to focus on body movements because they can sometimes be a more effective and striking means of communication. Others say these forms of commercial can have a greater impact in an age where meaningless words and images flood television screens and other media. Other analysts explain that the strategy can be related to the booming popularity of a Korean comedy show “Mabbaki” in which the comedians repeatedly slap their own foreheads.
“The body has a language that delivers an important message,” says Kim Hong-tak, a critic of TV commercials. “Yet we have long forgotten this language. It means something that TV commercial producers, who are extremely sensitive to popular trends and sentiment, are opening themselves to body gestures as a new form of language.”
Han Dong-dae, a professor of communication at Handong University, agrees. “The younger generation reacts more sensitively to visual images or motion that instantly grabs their attention,” he says. “To them, that’s more effective than words or speech. The commercials are using them effectively.”
by Jeong Hyun-mok