More acclaim for Korean ad agency

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More acclaim for Korean ad agency


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.


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 []
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