Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fake Brands: Introduction

Taking a short break from my sporadic series on Driving and Parking in Korea, I want to introduce a new topic: fake brands. Now the very idea of a brand is artificial. Its a name, symbol or whatever that is used to bring association to something. There are professionals whose only job is to create and develop "brands."

In America, we have brands that exude a certain image. The Marlboro Man portrayed rugged manliness and the Abercrombie & Fitch brand portrays young, half-naked people. These brands presented a false image, but one that was not too far from the target demographic: Marlboro cigarettes are still smoked mostly by men, and Abercrombie clothes are worn by young, half-naked people.

In Korea, brands are marketed as western, but are entirely oriental. Now, we can maybe be accused of this in America, but I think we are more aware. For example we know that Taco Bell isn't really Mexican and that Olive Garden isn't really Italian. However, some of these Korean brands look real enough to fool even the most discerning consumers. They have ads mostly in English, have white models--even spokespeople, and Western sounding names.

Below is what I would call an "authentic brand." This brand is undeniably Korean. The ad is from a Korean company, the product is uniquely Korean (a fridge with the sole purpose of storing kimchi), and the actors are Korean. (Don't get me started about their slogan though: "Well-being life."

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