, Lee Hye-young
and Miggi Chi. Provided by Brand Polish
What's so special about that brand-new trench coat that costs 130,000 won ($136) or those denim pants, that cost 89,000 won for two pairs? It's Lee Seung-yeon
, the stylish actress. She hawks both products on TV so viewers can look stylish and she can get rich, all in a matter of minutes.
After two hours selling three outfits and one big bag, Ms. Lee's publicist claims the show generated sales of 1.3 billion won, which was good business for CJ Home Shopping.
Ms. Lee, the former Miss Korea-turned-actress, is yet another Korean celebrity who wants to become a TV shopping jaebol, through her brand About el. Aided by a chatty shopping host, Ms. Lee shouts like a market tout, advising that her clothes, be they a skirt, suit or pants, are selling fast. Above all shoppers are told they have to hurry because quantities are limited. For example, last Saturday she said there were only 1,000 bags available and her publicist said they all sold.
A successful sales promotion on a TV shopping channel can generate billions of won per hour ― a moment of pure retail magic that all material girls dream about.
If that material girl happens to be the star of the show, and she takes a cut of the sales, she can get rich. Ms. Lee is the latest celebrity to begin a collaboration with a leading home shopping channel. Stars now use their image and name to sell everything from yoga pants to underwear to rain coats. Fame gave birth to this kind of modern-day star marketing, which relies on the selling power of celebrities in a given market. It involves relatively little investment because stars are not directly involved in the manufacturing or design process. Often, many of the items sold by a celebrity have no direct connection with him or her, not even a brand label.
There are a few Korean actresses who have succeeded in turning their image into a cash machine. Over the past few years, there have been two TV shopping stars who have turned every Korean actress green with envy.
One is the veteran Korean actress, Hwang Sin-hye
, who launched an underwear brand, called Elypry, with Hyundai Home Shopping in June 2006. The 110-minute program sold 460 million won worth of mechandise. The brand sold at a rate of about 4.5 pieces per second. Retail experts believe the launch of her books and DVDs about how to have a great body in one's 40s contributed to her success.
Another actress, Lee Hye-young
, launched "Finding Dorothy
" in 2004 and had 15 billion won worth of sales in her first year. The media has gone wild over the record-breaking numbers she has racked-up since. No wonder other stars are tempted, but it's not as easy as it looks.
When model and actress Byeon Jeong-soo
began to pitch Ellahoya in 2005 with the Hyundai Home Shopping Network, the trendy club used for the launch was packed with a huge crowd. Her ambitious concept was to improve on the cheap image of home shopping by offering fashionable items with higher quality and prices. While her sales and promotions continue on TV and online, her label has yet to break any records.
Miggi Chi, the former model-turned-party planner, started her brand, Miggi in New York, through Woori Home Shopping last year. She still promotes her brand every season. When asked about the real benefit of having her own home shopping brand, she said, "If you just think of it like a side job, it's not bad at all".
To become a home shopping queen it's necessary to have a much-hyped launch event to generate press coverage and sales.
For a well-known star like Ms. Lee Seung-yeon
, her launch on Feb. 22 at Club Circle, a happening venue in Cheongdam, was disappointing. The spacious club remained virtually empty and the fashion show started more than an hour late.
Such a poor turnout made the attendees wonder whether the event had been poorly publicized, or whether people were boycotting the actress, who won notoriety with a series of scandals.
In 1998, she was indicted for forging a driver's license. The incident caused an immediate public outcry, which forced her to quit all public activities.
In 2004, when it looked like she had re-established her career, the actress posed nude as a Japanese comfort woman as part of the publicity for a movie she wanted to make, a decision that caused another scandal and a further period of public humiliation. She then made more headlines by selling clothes in the Dongdaemun market. The actress declined to be interviewed by the IHT-JoongAng Daily.
When asked about the poor attendance, Kim Jea-nu, a manager for the About el brand, said the event was meant to be an informal gathering of immediate friends and supporters to show off a small number of outfits.
When asked about her new venture, he said Ms. Lee's reputation as a celebrity and fashion icon was a key factor along with her one-year experience in fashion retailing and manufacturing. "Distribution companies prefer to work with people who understand the world of fashion and Ms. Lee worked for two seasons with her own brand at the Dongdaemun market", Mr. Kim said. "Her image is being improved by appearing in dramas and through other activities. About el is just her personal business".
By Ines cho Staff Writer