The Rise of K-Pop

In the western world, it isn’t uncommon to see pop stars cameo in ads for big brands, whether it be an appearance on a Nike commercial or a recognizable voiceover for the latest Mr. Christie cookie. It makes sense for brands to hire public figures in order to reach that particular influencer’s target audience.

In more extreme cases, some musicians are heavily featured in advertisements – Like the more recent Oreo commercial with Tegan and Sara singing “Dare To Wonder”. We frequently see our favourite icons appear briefly in ads, familiar voices in voiceovers for products, and popular songs featured in commercials – but this practice seems to intensify as we begin to explore Asian culture and the emergence of K-Pop.

Although it’s the status quo that musicians and media influencers play a role in marketing big brand names and products, K-Pop stars have pushed the envelope further than what we’ve experienced in Canada and the US. For many Asian celebrities, becoming the face of a product or brand is fully expected and part of the job description of a K-Pop Star.

We aren’t shocked to see celebrities featured in ads, but it would be unconventional for artists to create songs specifically to advertise products. This isn’t the case with K-Pop – the practice is commonly referred to as Adversongs, and although there hasn’t been much talk around this type of advertisement in Canada and the US, Microsoft cunningly used a K-Pop song in their 2014 ad that compared The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with Apple’s Macbook Air. The song featured was called “I am the best” by 2NE1, and call it what you want, but this was quite the clever engagement on Microsoft’s behalf.

Take a look at some of the most popular Korean pop adversongs:

Dara (from 2ne1) Kiss – Ad for Cass beer:

In this adversong, Dara from the well-known K-Pop group 2ne1 is the main focus of the video as well as Lee Min Ho – a South Korean actor and singer. The entire music video is geared towards “Cass Beer” – a product created by a South Korean brewery called Oriental Brewery.

Although we haven’t heard much from Cass Beer in our neck of the woods, K-Pop stars are notorious for marketing products we know and love, like the brands LG and Puma.

Puma Commercial:

LG Commercial:

Of course, none of these advertisements have aired in Canada or the US…but like Microsoft discovered, integration of K-pop culture in their ad proved to be a success. Does the practice of adversongs have a place in the western world in the future?