Characters steal people’s attention through their cuteness and uniqueness. Thus, a character has emerged as a being that can play a large advertising promotion role. Accordingly, many organizations and companies are actively trying to utilize character marketing. ST once investigated that there are organizations and companies that actively utilize character marketing and its effects on such entities. ......Ed
“I have already made friends with all the students of SSU, and following my seniors, there is no one I don't know at SSU, 'nuclear person',” is one sentence in the introduction of 'Shungshungi.' If you are a Soongsilian, there will be no one who does not know 'Shungshungi.' Many universities have a character that symbolizes their school. Kangwon National University has 'Gomdu-ri,' which is an application of a bear in line with the regional characteristics of Gangwon- do, and Dongduk Women’s University has 'Somsomi,' which was inspired by 'Mokhwa,' the school ofeducation. In the past, these characters were used only for logos or university publicity materials, but, recently, they are being used to communicate with many people inside and outside the school, such as goods and SNS(Social Network Service). Cute and attractive characters can bring out not only the image of the school, but also the students’ school spirit. Characters are currently being used in various industries, and, here, character marketing uses characters to publicize a company’s image and promote products.
Did you know that the Bellygom of Lotte Tower is a character of Lotte Home Shopping?
Bellygom is a character active on SNS, such as YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. It was only four years after its birth in 2018 when it was revealed that it was a character of Lotte Home Shopping through 'Amazing Bellygom', which installed an extra-large Bellygom on the lawn plaza of World Park to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Lotte Tower. In addition to its own exhibition, Bellygom is collaborating with various brands and even held an exhibition in New York. The beginning of Bellygom started with the thought of 'How can I make customers easily access distribution media?' as the era of TV home shopping was waning. In this mood, Bellygom is promoted without revealing that it is a corporate character, and even though it has been revealed as a corporate character, the corporate color is reduced to a minimum. Therefore, there are still many people who do not know that Bellygom is a character of Lotte Home Shopping, but Lotte Home Shopping is generating profits through the brand Bellygom.
Hite Jinro’s Sales Lead, Charmy
Hite Jinro has a dominant position in the Korean liquor industry, with well-known products such as Chamisul, Terra, and Hite beer. However, in 2019, with the release of 'Jinro is Back,' they introduced a character marketing that had never been seen before in the industry, featuring their iconic character, the toad 'Charmy.' Jinro also opened pop-up stores across the country, which focused on the toad character rather than the liquor itself with children’s playground concept. Moreover, they have collaborated with companies such as Boomaster, a manufacturer of audio equipment, Covernat, a clothing brand, and convenience store E-Mart 24, crossing boundaries to guarantee consumers a unique and enjoyable experience. After only seven months since its release, Jinro is back was sold 100 million bottles, accounting for 10% of Hite Jinro's entire soju volume, proving its strong position in the market.
Collaboration with Famous Characters, Zanmang Loopy
Even those who are not interested in Zanmang Loopy may have seen the mouth- watering Loopy meme at least once. Many people tend to see Zanmang Loopy as a simple amateur artwork created by an individual, but the character is developed by ICONIX, an animation production company that created popular animations such as Pororo which is the Little Penguin (seasons 4-6), and Tayo which is the Little Bus, etc. Zanmang Loopy mainly operates through social media, and its official Instagram account has over 240,000 followers as of April 2023, surpassing 100,000 followers in just one year. Unlike other characters, Zanmang Loopy’s success lies in user communication experience. Influencers typically take one-waycommunication, but Zanmang Loopy uses various communication networks. For some examples, Zanmang Loopy regrams every post that tags them and responds to all direct messages, thus creating a strong perception of being a character co-created with consumers. The character has even reached the point of collaborating with luxury jewelry brand, BVLGARI.
Is Character Marketing Unconditionally Successful?
Character marketing breathes new life into a brand. It expresses the personality of the brand while allowing consumers to feel familiar with the brand. Recently, as the utilization of online media such as SNS and YouTube has increased, character marketing is receiving plenty of attention as a method of expressing a brand. In character marketing, the cost of producing and operating characters is relatively low compared to other types of marketing. Also, if the character is successful, it is easy to create various derivative contents or derivative products. However, character marketing should not be attempted to ride the trend. This is because character marketing is not always successful. Now that character marketing is prevalent, solid planning and high-level storytelling are essential to have a competitive edge. Rather than competing simply with the appearance of the character, we need to create a character that consumers can relate to. Furthermore, it is necessary to create a unique and differentiated character that shows the image and characteristics that the company wants to express.
Lee Eun-hee, a professor of consumer studies at Inha University, said, “Generation Z, whose daily life is in the digital and online world, enjoys communicating with characters more than communicating with people who are imperfect beings.” This is because it is an important market that leads to many industries. Character marketing is at the center of marketing techniques and, in the financial sector, is evaluated as an essential strategy, not as an option. Therefore,companies are expected to continue to introduce more active character marketing.
Lee Yun-so (ST Reporter)
Lee Hyun-Jun (ST Cub-Reporter)