BH Discuss: Why is Korean food marketing so terrible?
Last week, this advertisement for the Korean beef dish, bulgogi appeared in the New York Times:
Yes, yes we did mean last week. As in 2014. As in not 1994.
The ad looks hopelessly dated with, as ZenKimchi points out, more than a passing resemblance to the hugely successful US ‘Got Milk?’ campaigns of the 1990s. The group behind this particular campaign have also created a number of similarly misguided adverts for other types of Korean food and drink including this ad for makgeolli that barely acknowledges the fact that it is in fact an alcoholic beverage, which is really an essential consideration for anyone advertising or buying the drink.
This is not the first weird English-language Korean food promotion to be released. Anyone remember Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corporation set of ‘K-food’ commercials with CNBLUE?
Really does anyone know the point of this commercial? Are people going to be drawn into Korean food if they are told that Korea’s mushrooms are somehow especially romantic?
When I was in New York last year, I happened to see one of these promotions on the full side of a bus and it did make me wonder if anyone on the street except me even understood the slightest of what was going on in the ad (and honestly I didn’t really get it; Jungshin had an apple on his head for goodness’ sake!)
The ridiculous thing is that Korean food has so much to offer. It is relatively healthy, although there is perhaps a little too much salt, and, most importantly, it tastes good. I’ve rarely seen a non-Korean person try Korean food and not like it and people really are interested in tasting what Korea has to offer. On top of that, the actual experience of eating Korean-style as a group can be really fun for westerners – something Korean restaurants don’t capitalise on nearly enough.
However these strange, uninformative or hyperbolic ads that proclaim that kimchi has magical qualities, or use K-pop stars to promote to audiences who have no idea who they are, are never going to work.
But what will? Last year, in the UK, Korean food manufacturer Nongshim announced a deal with football club AFC Wimbledon. The team is based locally to New Malden which has the largest Korean population and so arguably this could be a good way to both reach out to the local Korean population but also to others who live in the nearby area where there is plenty of Korean restaurants and food shops to explore. Tesco has also been slowly expanding its range of Korean foods on sale in the UK alongside CJ Foods and media attention on Korean food has been growing over the past couple of years. In fact, a whole episode of BBC2’s ‘The Hairy Bikers’ Asian Adventure’ will be focussing on Korean food this week (Thursday 8pm if anyone’s interested).
Interest in Korean food is definitely growing around the world but what is the best way for Korean food companies and organisations to draw people from around the world into it? What is it that you like about Korean food? What would you like to see more of where you live?
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