South Korea has successfully been projecting a favorable image of modern Korea through Hallyu, which has provided economic benefits (increased tourism and exports) , as well as raised cultural recognition. As Korea expands overseas promotion to pursue international popularity, Hollywood has been one of the targets for Korean screen tourism. The American film industry has a huge influence on other Western countries as it provides access to the global audience.
Samsung has been the headlining brand used to shape a positive representation of Korea to Western consumers. Although the Samsung Galaxy series smartphones beats the Apple iPhone series in terms of functions and features, the Apple brand has a charming allure that has a tight grip on Western consumers. In order to compete, Samsung must beat Apple’s ‘cool’ appeal. Samsung has paid $200 million on ads, and even more to appear in popular movies, and has sponsored influential celebrities and publicity stunts to persuade people’s tastes.
Samsung has made many onscreen appearances. Samsung subtly featured in the blockbuster film Jurassic World (2015), although dozens of other huge brands were also featured which stole the spotlight. The second installment of the Avengers franchise; Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015) had a scene shot in Seoul, although many were disappointed with the results. The setting was awkwardly slotted into the storyline, appeared only briefly and only showcased the ugly grey/black concrete roads and buildings.
The promotional poster for Zoolander 2 (2016) is probably the biggest and most obvious product placement carried out by Samsung. 15 years after the cult hit flick Zoolander (2001), the sequel is highly anticipated. On the poster, comedic stars Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are taking ‘selfies‘ with a Samsung Galaxy s6. Although the logo is blurred out, the familiar edges of a Galaxy and the camera placement reveals the model’s identity. While the back of an iPhone is recognized easily, the back of a Galaxy is not as common. As the titular character Derek is known for being a character concerned with high fashion and style. The Galaxy s6 in his hand implies that the phone is the trendiest device on shelves. These PR strategies promote Samsung smartphones as not only functional, but also stylish.
South Korea has already achieved a lot in enhancing its national brand; from the unknown country between China and Japan, to the leading country in technology and vibrant youth culture. After being acknowledged in the Far East, it continues to strengthen overseas public relations, educate the world about South Korea, and expand in the Western market. Many are curious about the future of this small peninsula. Samsung may have opened the gates to the beginning of something big.
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