It's JRilla, a bread and girl-group loving gorilla character

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It's JRilla, a bread and girl-group loving gorilla character

Shinsegae’s JRilla. [JOONGANG PHOTO]

Shinsegae’s JRilla. [JOONGANG PHOTO]

 
Kakao has Ryan, the maneless lion. Shinsegae now has JRilla, a besuited gorilla sporting one cool hairdo.
 
The retailer claims that the character resembles Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin.
 
Fun and games aside, the company hopes JRilla will help it move more merchandise, especially bread, and eventually get into the money-spinning character business, in which icons like Ryan are used to build mini-marketing empires targeting the old and young alike.  
 
JRilla’s first job is a bakery, aptly name the JRilla bakery, which is expected to open in SSG Food Market’s Cheongdam branch in southern Seoul as early as June.  
 
The bakery will be operated by Shinsegae Food, which supplies to a wide range of related franchises and companies, including Starbucks Korea, The Menagerie, Vecchia e Nuovo, Emart and Emart Traders.
 
“Bread plays a key role in people’s diet and is also what Shinsegae is very good at,” said a source from Shinsegae Food. “We hired many experts who have expertise in bread after winning lots of awards in international competitions including in France and have been concentrating on developing new bread."
 
The JRilla bakery “will try to offer customers the best bread in the country."  
 
All JRilla bakery branches will be operated by the company, just like Starbucks. It may open some branches in popular tourist destinations around the country, such as Jeju and Yangyang County in Gangwon.
 
With JRilla bakery, Shinsegae is trying to compete in the bakery market, which is currently dominated by SPC Group’s Paris Baguette. 
 
Since the Covid-19 outbreak drove an online shopping booming, characters have become critical for marketing.
 
Character-based businesses have gain even more attention from retail and entertainment since the idea of a Metaverse — a virtual-reality space in which people can interact with a computer-generated environment and other virtual people — has been gaining popularity.
 
Shinsegae Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin, in the background, and JRilla pose for a photo when they visited an SSG Landers baseball game on April 4. [YONHAP]

Shinsegae Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin, in the background, and JRilla pose for a photo when they visited an SSG Landers baseball game on April 4. [YONHAP]

 
“The company put Vice Chairman Chung as a lead and made him to attract customers with the character that symbolizes himself,” said a spokesperson for Shinsegae Group. “In the fourth industrial revolution era, companies would be able to receive good feedback in the market when they are able to gain recognition for transparency and sincerity."  
 
"Otherwise, the public would give them the cold shoulder."  
 
Chung, a heavy user of social media, has been actively promoting his company and its products via his Instagram account.  
 
He followed JRilla’s Instagram account immediately when it was released to the public on April 2.  
 
On JRilla’s Instagram account, a photo of Chung and JRilla visiting an SSG Landers baseball game has been uploaded recently.  
 
"I've found someone who looks like me," the post read.
 
Shinsegae Food appointed Song Hyun-suk as its new CEO last year. Song served as head of marketing at Pizza Hut and Oriental Brewery (OB).  
 
Just as Kakao’s characters have back stories, Shinsegae Food’s JRilla has a story too. JRilla “loves bread” and “opened a bakery in Cheongdam-dong as it loves Korean girl groups.” 
 
Like Pengsoo, JRilla is androgynous.
 
“We are looking forward to expanding our JRilla character into many different business sectors including fashion, food and lifestyle,” said a spokesperson for Shinsegae Group. “As soon as the character is recognized in the bakery industry, we will try harder to increase its brand image and competitiveness.”  
 
BY LEE SO-AH, CHEA SARAH   [chea.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
 
 
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