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Housing Slump Kills Star Appeal for Advertisers

2011/04/13 Source

Kim Tae-hee (left) and Lee Young-ae

The faces of celebrities are disappearing from advertising for apartments. Construction industry insiders said Daewoo Engineering and Construction did not renew a contract with the actress Kim Tae-hee to advertise its Prugio apartment brand, and Samsung Corporation, which owns the Raemian line of apartments, ended a months-old contract with veteran actress Lee Mi-sook at the end of last year.

SK Engineering and Construction is apparently debating whether to renew Son Ye-jin's contract when it expires at the end of this month. And Lee Young-ae has been dropped as the face of GS Engineering and Construction's Xi line after seven years.

The trend is the result of a slump in the housing market. Slow subscriptions for new apartments led to a drop of over 60 percent in the number of newly built units in the first quarter this year, from 18,365 units in the first quarter of 2010 to just 7,276. Even so more than 80,000 homes remain unsold across the country.

"The number of newly built apartments has dropped and caused the advertising market to shrink, which has made builders think twice about the need to hire a top celebrity at a cost of W500 million (US$1=W1,095) a year", said one construction company staffer.

A growing trend among home buyers to look for good prices rather than brand power also persuaded developers to focus on function rather than luxurious image in advertising. A good example is a Daelim advert that focuses on wider parking spaces at its apartment complexes. An executive at a construction company said, "Major construction companies have achieved brand recognition for their apartments now, so it looks like we'll see more ads either featuring ordinary housewives or promoting a corporate image".

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