Korean Air marketer Emily Cho was in New York on Thursday to bend an ear about the carrier's first global ad push since 2007. Cho, officially general manager, integrated marketing communications, is also the daughter of Korean Air chairman and CEO Yang Ho Cho. She was also former account executive at the airline's Korea-based ad agency HS Ad.
The altitudinous marketer came to MediaPost's new offices on 32nd Street joined by Ashley Chung, who runs the airline's PR and advertising in the U.S. The two spoke with Marketing Daily about "For life on a whole new scale," the company's new global campaign that replaces "What Korean Air is made of," which debuted in 2007. The new creative features stylish young travelers depicted as giants, and focuses on amenities such as gourmet food, pulchritudinous flight attendants, lie-flat seats, and the array of Korean Air destinations.
Q: Why are you just now getting around to a new campaign?
A: This is our first global campaign in over a decade; we have a large global media buy. But during the recession, we didn't want to change messages.
Q: Is this a complete change of direction or an evolution of "What Korean Air is made of"?
A: This is now a more direct message. We are talking about how our service makes us different. It is non-traditional, but our previous campaign was also. We are saying that Korean Air symbolizes glamour. "For life on a whole new scale" has two meanings: that our customers -- successful businesspeople -- are a different kind of traveler; and we are a different kind of airline.
Q: This is a global campaign, but was it principally developed for U.S. travelers?
A: The U.S. is a top priority for our airline, and we are the largest Asian carrier in the U.S.
Q: But are you competing principally with other Asian-based airlines serving mostly Asian markets?
A: We are competing with all of the airlines. We consider everyone our competition, since we are global. But we also look at what other airlines are doing and try to learn from them as well.
Q: Your target is the business traveler, but that's a hard pitch, isn't it -- since air travel is a commodity for a lot of these people? And they are often -- if they work for big companies -- going through their travel office?
A: Well, we are members of the SkyTeam Alliance -- so Delta miles are transferable to us, for example. But our message is to the business traveler: flying can be fun, relaxing -- not a hassle, not a commodity. Our message is that travel can be something you can enjoy. That's what Korean Air represents. Especially for long flights, things like lie-flat seats, good food and service are important.
Q: Is the U.S. media strategy for the campaign focused on markets like New York and L.A.?
A: The global ad buy includes the U.S. So we are doing national advertising, but also regional starting in January. We fly out of 12 gateways in the U.S. and operate three daily flights from Los Angeles, two daily from New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto.
Q: Is Korea Air pairing the effort with sponsorships in the U.S.?
A: Yes, we are involved in the "Food and Wine Classic," NBT (National Business Travel) national and local events.
Q: Are there social media elements to the campaign?
A: We have Facebook and Twitter pages, but it's not a sales media channel; it's more about interaction with fans.
Q: Several carriers have focused on their hubs to boost the experience factor with lounges and branded terminals and the like. What has Korean Air done in this regard?
A: Our hub at Incheon [International Airport in South Korea] has been rated the best airport in the world for the past four or five years. The SkyTeam lounge in L.A. and at JFK are ours. We also own the Hyatt hotel next to Incheon, which provides catering for our lounge, and we own and are renovating the Wilshire Grand in downtown Los Angeles. We also have a hotel in Waikiki [Hawaii].
Q: What is the corporate relationship with HS Ad?
A: We don't own them; they are an affiliate of the LG Group. I was there, so they know how to work with me and we have found it a very symbiotic relationship; they know what we want from them.
Q: Did HS Ad develop the creative in the Korea office or the U.S.?
A: It was developed out of HS Ad's LA regional office.