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(News Focus) Telecom firms plug into K-pop to woo young customers

All Headlines 16:07 August 29, 2016

By Kim Deok-hyun

SEOUL, Aug. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's three mobile carriers are ramping up their marketing campaigns by launching a one-off pop band or offering product promotions with K-pop idols to broaden their appeal to young customers.

The strategy appears to have paid off after last year's successful marketing blitz by market leader SK Telecom Co., which selected Seolhyun of girl group AOA to endorse the company's wireless services.

Earlier this month, KT Corp., the country's second-largest mobile carrier by subscribers, began offering a new wireless-service discount rate for teen customers.

To better advertise the new discount rate, named "Y-teen," KT joined hands with record label Starship Entertainment and launched a one-off music band called "Y-teen."

The band, composed of some members from Starship's Monsta X and Cosmic Girls, released digital single "Do Better" and virtual reality music video.

The music video gained viral success with viewership hitting 2.2 million. Including the viewership of the music video's teaser and TV commercials, its total viewership reached 4.7 million, according to KT.

Helped by the marketing effort, KT's new discount rate has attracted about 13,000 customers so far.

About 60 percent of KT customers aged between 13 and 18 choose the "Y-teen" rate.

"As the popularity of the project group is gaining, subscribers (for the new discount rate) are expected to be on a steady rise," said a KT official.

To expand the customer base for its "Smart Beam" portable projector for smartphones and tablets to young women customers, SK Telecom teamed up with a popular boy band "BigBang."

In line with the band's 10th anniversary of its debut, SK Telecom offered the portable projector with its design slightly modified based on opinions from "BigBang" members. Also, an SD card with undisclosed interview video with the members is included into the projector.

A total of 819 portable projectors were sold in pre-order sales, according to SK Telecom.

Third-ranked LG Uplus Corp. is stepping up live broadcasts with members of K-pop bands to promote its video platform.

Boy or girl bands such as GFriend, TWICE and Got7 have been featured by the live broadcasts and their total viewership reached 2 million.

The marketing strategy with K-pop idols appears to be effective in raising a product's public awareness, but there is a risk that people's attention may be focused on the idols themselves.

"The idol marketing's weakness is that its target customers are limited, although its reaction is instant," said an official in the ad industry.

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