From BTS meals at McDonald’s to BLACKPINK members representing multiple luxury fashion houses, global brands are more welcoming than ever to the popularity and social media savvy of K-pop stars. But the artists have also used their influence to help grow and promote start-ups from their native South Korea, in an emerging business model that has received significant government support.
The special affairs division of South Korean TV and radio broadcaster Munhwa Broadcasting Company (better known as MBC) recently shared its plans for a new business model called “Connect, Accompany to make Synergy and Transformation” (“CAST”). Findings and future plans. After three years of research and testing, MBC says that even as K-pop artists and celebrities rise in popularity, they are open to partnering with South Korean small and medium-sized enterprises (also known as SMEs) and sharing their data. Meaningful partnerships with millions of exciting fans.
In the CAST system, Hallyu stars and SMEs are paired one-on-one, and celebrities participate not only as models, but also as creative directors in product planning, development and testing stages. The Korean government-sponsored Korea Foundation for International Cultural Exchange (KOFICE) devised the matching system after realizing that smaller Korean businesses struggled to recruit top stars.
“Stars using their influence to help small and medium-sized enterprises grow and expand overseas are seen as a new form of donation,” MBC said in a release. “The fact that global stars participate in events for free has drawn a lot of attention. [and] The CAST project deserves attention as a donation unprecedented anywhere in the world to sustain a true partnership for over a year. “
Artists actively participating in the 2022 iteration of the show include beloved girl group Apink, chart-topping boy group SF9, solo superstar Jung Ha, up-and-coming girl group Weeekly, beauty YouTuber PONY, and models Irene Kim, Jung Hyuk, and Song Ha Na. KOFICE selects eight small and medium-sized enterprises to create the best synergy between the two parties, eight stars serve as creative directors, and finally endorse and market after the product is approved.
The first overseas test of the business model was held at HallyuPopFest in London last year, where around 60 Korean SMEs were showcased at the same festival venue, including popular artists such as Kai, Chen, Hwa Sa, SF9, ASTRO, Weeekly, Ke1per, etc. . These overseas exhibitions and product demonstrations are another part of the CAST system. Through the popularity of celebrities and product endorsements, we can strengthen the company’s local reputation and develop international demand.
Looking ahead, KOFICE President Jung Kilhwa shared that after three years of testing, the CAST model can effectively build “strong competitiveness” among emerging companies in 2023.
The CAST system showcases not only the way Korean businesses gain a foothold in the global market, but K-pop stars are keenly aware of what is needed to help their country’s economy grow in a healthy, meaningful way.