Sunday, September 12, 2010

'Pretty' men sweep electronics commercials

Television commercials for domestic appliances like refrigerators, ovens and laundry products are obviously aimed at women. What marketers can’t decide, however, is whether it’s better to have the products endorsed by beautiful women or men just as pretty.

It wasn’t long ago when famous actresses like Song Hye-kyo and Ko Hyun-jung were dominating the television advertisements for ``kimchi’’ refrigerators, which are specially designed for maintaining the Korean staple dish of fermented cabbage.

But it now seems that major consumer electronics makers like Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics have decided they would rather use male celebrities to lure female customers.

Actor and singer Lee Seung-gi is now appearing in television advertisements for Samsung’s ``Zipel’’ kimchi refrigerators, and midsized maker Winiamando has a pair of movie hunks in So Ji-sub and Yoo Seung-ho touting its kimchi refrigerators.

Completing the male sweep is LG, which recently signed the footballing duo of Cha Du-ri and Ki Sung-yueng, both playing for Celtic in the Scottish Premier League, to appear on television commercials for its ``Dios’’ brand of kimchi refrigerators later this month.

Male celebrities are competing with their female counterparts in the advertisements for kitchen appliances as well. Alex, a singer and renowned foodie, has been the local spokesman for French appliances maker Tefal.

In his recent movie, ``The Man from Nowhere,’’ actor Won Bin played the role of a retired secret agent who embarks upon a blood-splattering revenge mission for a kidnapped child. But he’s all-sweet in the commercial for Cuckoo’s new rice cooker, ``Pink Rose,’’ buying flowers, doing the dishes, and casting his patented doe-eyed stare at the rice cooker as he waits for his imaginary girlfriend to return from work.

``A lot of women will be willing to trade places with that rice cooker,’’ a Cuckoo spokesman said.

Laundry products are a rare home appliance where actresses are defending their endorsement turf. Samsung and LG have Han Ga-in and Lee Na-young, respectively, promoting their premium washing machines. Apparently, the logic is that women want men to cook for them, but women still can’t trust men to erase the stain on their skirts.

``Electronics makers have long relied on actresses and female models in gender targeting, connecting an image of `high living’ to their domestic appliances products and stoking the desire for self-reward in female customers. But now they seem to believe that using attractive men provides a better way to aim at female customers,’’ said an employee from a Seoul-based advertisement company.

At least the actresses still have their apartment commercials.

By Kim Tong-hyung

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