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Korean stars wooed for endorsements

2004/12/02 | 774 views | Permalink | Source

Korean movie "Windstruck" featuring Jun Ji-hyun will be released in 310 theaters in Japan next week, the largest number ever for a Korean film.
But the producers will not be the only ones holding their breath to see if the romantic film will be a hit abroad.

The movie has been criticized as a 108-minute advertisement that took full advantage of the leggy actress who is one of the most wanted models in Korea. Jun made appearance in a number of big shot commercials and advertisements clad in Giordano, taking pictures with Olympus digital camera, fluttering her lashes done in Laneige mascara and even doing Web searches on local browser Naver.

Although companies such as Giordano said it could not confirm whether the sassy actress's face actually helped their sales, Shin Yong-no of Olympus Korea said using Jun was definitely the watershed in raising brand awareness for the company that jumped relatively late into the Korean market.

Lim Su-jeong in TV drama "Sorry, I Love You"
"We were the first to run TV commercials among digital camera makers and when we decided to cast Jun in 2003, she already was a popular actress and model", He said. "But when the first commercial was released, the effect of Jun was clear". Olympus Korea not only kept its top sales spot but also broadened the gap with its image-conscious commercials, he added, which aired in 10 countries including China, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Thanks to "Hallyu" or "Korea Wave", it would not be far-fetched to expect Jun's face to boost the sales of the products or services. Actually, in some Asian countries, Olympus is even considered "Made in Korea", said Shin.

It is natural for the customers to identify the images of celebrities with the products or vice versa. And celebrity endorsements have become an effective tool of marketing, especially in the fashion industry where seeing virtually is believing.

Financial Times fashion editor Edwina Ings-Chambers recently called the phenomenon as "celebrity path to success" citing the rise and fall of UGG boots and Frye boots. UGG boots, the sheepskin fluffy pairs that could be described even ugly, have been literally everywhere regardless of season after being spotted on the likes of Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson and Sarah Jessica Parker, who has already moved onto a pair of Frye boots.

Seoul is still seeing growing numbers of UGGs and its copycats as Korean celebrities are sporting them on and off screen. On the Web sites dedicated to dressing like celebrities, most notably Lee Hyo-ri, countless comments of members are on the cozy boots as well as what brands and styles female celebrities took on.

Goh Hyeon-jeong, who recently announced her comeback to TV screen, made a buzz among those interested in fashion and celebrity with her head-to-toe Ralph Lauren Black Label outfit. And it was not long before the Internet listed who wore what at the 25th Blue Dragon Film Awards: Kim Hye-soo in a glittering Gucci, as usual, dripping with Fred jewelry, Kim Hyo-jin in Missoni, Jang Jin-yeong in Yves Saint Laurent chinoiserie and Lee Na-young in Fendi.

The most talked about fashion and style of now, however, is those of Lim Su-jeong who won the new actress of the year at the award ceremony last year with the horror movie "A Tale of Two Sisters" (2003).

Lim's casual and cute style in KBS TV drama "Sorry, I Love You" is winning enthusiastic response from audiences. A rainbow colored sweater from CASH is reportedly sold out while the fans and fashionistas are inquiring about the brands her knit ponchos and short trenches.

"It is true that fashion and celebrities go hand in hand with each other, have become almost inseparable. And the audience, including myself, tend to project the images and style of certain celebrities onto themselves. As long as it does not affect the self-image, what harm could it do?" said a 23-year-old fan of Lim.

By Hwang You-mee

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