More acclaim for Korean ad agency

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More acclaim for Korean ad agency

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Alfred S. Park

The Gold Pencil for Design, the highest honor at the prestigious One Show Design Awards, went earlier this month to the Korea-based Big Ant International, a small ad agency with just 15 employees

Big Ant has now won awards at one of the three major ad competitions - the One Shows, the CLIO Awards and the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival - for two consecutive years, a first for a Korean agency.

The agency is led by Creative Director Alfred S. Park, 32.

After dropping out of Dankook University, Park moved to the United States in 2000. While he was studying business administration at the University of Michigan, Park became interested in advertising. Later at 27 he studied art at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

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A Big Ant poster created as part of a campaign against the Iraq war. Provided by Big Ant

In his second year of art school, Park and his friends founded Big Ant International. The company has employees from Korea, the U.S., France and China divided between offices in Seoul and New York, and has won over 35 awards.

Park is actually the eldest son of Doosan Corp. Chairman Park Yong-maan, but that fact became public only recently, after the younger Park spent years keeping it secret.

“I didn’t want to be known as a son of Park Yong-maan,” Park said. “I wanted to prove myself with my own ability. So I told my father not to reveal the fact that I was his son until I got 15 awards. After I got 15 awards, I didn’t hold him back [and he published the fact on Twitter].”

Park said his father always had faith in him. “When I got bad grades in school, he asked me if I was going to do better next time. I always said ‘yes.’ But I didn’t study. No matter how much I lied, he always trusted me,” Park said.

Big Ant won the One Show award for an outdoor ad campaign that covered the entire facade of the Doosan Engineering and Construction Co. headquarters in Nonhyeon-dong, southern Seoul. The ad featured an image of a giant bookshelf with magazines published by Doosan such as Vogue, GQ, Vogue Girl, Allure and W placed on it.

Another part of the campaign singled out at One Show was the eco-friendly bags depicting a smaller version of the bookshelf. At the end of last year, Vogue Korea put the bags up for sale at a charity bazaar, where they immediately sold out.

In 2009, the agency also won a Gold Pencil for design at the One Shows for an outdoor ad reading “What goes around comes around,” used in a campaign against the war in Iraq.

“My asset is overblown confidence,” Park said. “I dropped out of school in Korea and did not decide on what to major in at the University of Michigan for three years. But I still had confidence that I was going to succeed. Looking back, I was fortunate. At the time, my life could have been seen as a failure. But without that experience, I would have never gotten so far.”


By Choi Ji-young [jbiz91@joongang.co.kr]
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접시닦이, 세차장 직원 겪어 본 재벌가 아들 … “실력으로 평가받고 싶다”



지난해 박서원(31)씨를 한 차례 인터뷰했다. 직원 20여 명인 조그마한 광고회사 대표인 그를 만난 건 순전히 놀라운 창의성 때문이었다. 그가 광고제에 출품한 첫 작품은 국제 5대 메이저 광고제에서 12개의 상을 휩쓸었다. 한국인 역대 최다 수상이다. 1년이 지난 후 그는 다시 세계를 놀라게 했다. 세계 2대 광고제의 최우수상과 본상을 탔다. 2연패 역시 역대 최초다. 알고 보니 그는 이름만 들으면 알 만한 그룹 회장의 장남이었다. 그런데 최근까지도 이를 철저히 숨기려 했다. 그런 그가 궁금했다. 17일 서울 강남구 신사동에 있는 ‘빅앤트 인터내셔널’ 사무실에서 그를 다시 만났다.

칸막이가 전혀 없는 이곳엔 운동기구와 각종 상장 및 트로피가 곳곳에 놓여 있었다. ‘일터’라기보다는 ‘놀이터’ 같았다. 박서원 대표는 두 시간여 동안 작품 세계와 창의력의 원천, 그리고 방황하던 젊은 시절을 속사포처럼 쏟아냈다. 끊임없이 믿어주는 아버지에겐 항상 미안해했다.

“학교 다닐 때 성적이 나쁘게 나오면 ‘다음엔 잘할 거지’라고 믿어주셨죠. ‘네’라고 대답하고, 또 공부는 안 했죠. 보통 세 번 거짓말을 하면 양치기 소년인데 아버지는 저를 계속 믿어주셨어요.”

그런 아버지가 요즘엔 트위터로 아들 자랑하느라 열심이다. 아버지는 ㈜두산의 박용만 회장이다.

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