Why Gangnam Style is the biggest news, brand story of 2012
Through his recent success, 34-year-old, Korean K-pop superstar Psy, has had the president of the United States joke about being able to do his silly horse dance, got him photographed with Ban Ki-moon, and featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, teaching Britney Spears and mums across America his Gangnam Style dance. (video)
Let's start at the beginning. First off, what the hell is Gangnam anyway? Gangnam, as it turns out, is a little Sandton, a posh neighbourhood in South Korea's capital city, Seoul. And what is the song about? It's actually a fun dance song that pokes fun of the posh lifestyle of the rich who live in Gangnam.
Who is this Psy? Psy pronounced "sigh" is the K-pop (K: Korean) sensation whose real name is Jae-Sang Park. Psy has been well known in South Korea for more than a decade; he recently got a spot on one of the Korean TV stations by going into its offices and doing a crazy dance in its corridors.
Why should we care about this South Korean K-pop star? Not only was Psy a global news and entertainment story, he proved that the one-hit wonder can be multimillion dollar business in 2012.
Income streams for Psy
Maybe we should say economic impact, it sounds more appropriate given the scale of the numbers involved. Rocket Boom magazine cites the earnings for Gangnam Style to have reached USD13 to 15 million over the last four months alone. Yep, that's an estimated R110 million!
The brand power of Psy's Gangnam Style
The experts agree that there is no good way to explain the sudden spike in the share price of Korean semiconductor manufacturer DI. Over the last three weeks, the company has rocketed from around USD1.80 to USD5.12 a share. The shift is baffling, considering that nothing has changed financially for the company. The only plausible explanation: DI's main shareholder, however, just so happens to be Park Won-ho, Psy's father.
The Gangnam Style effect on tourism
Lee Charm, head of Korea's Tourism Organisation, was quoted as saying: "If only 1% of them (YouTube viewers) said, 'Hey! What is this place, where is it? I'll go there', that will be already about four to five million people, and so of course we will use that."
Awards and accolades for Psy
* Gangnam Style picked up the Guinness world record for the most likes back in October for amassing received 4,911,081 "likes" on the video-sharing website YouTube since being released on 12 July, 2012.
* Psy took to the podium at Oxford University to discuss his career and global stardom on Wednesday, 7 November, an honour that has been bestowed upon the likes of Mother Teresa, Yoko Ono, and Michael Jackson in the past.
If you're tired of the overemphasis on numbers, I've achieved my object quite honestly. Gangnam Style is a hit and global epidemic, to be precise. The point of the emphasis is to put in perspective the sheer opportunity represented by Gangnam Style's success. It's an opportunity to learn how you take a Korean middleweight brand and K-pop sensation and turn him into a global superstar in 16 weeks.
In reality, I'm not suggesting that this feat will be repeated again; quite honestly this feat is just mind blowing. If you consider that there are 7 billion people on the planet it means that almost 10% of the entire human population have seen this video. What I am saying is that it's a window into the entertainment branding of the future, musicians and content producers should take note and be ready for the consumer of the future.
About Lebogang Mukansi
Lebogang Mukansi is Chief Strategist at InventorsKitchen, a strategy consultancy shop. He is also a freelance writer, social commentator and brand ninja - helping clients to develop brand strategies and marketing approaches. He will be the dude in jeans and Chuck tailors in the boardroom.
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