The allure of Korean poster boys

IDOL POWER: As Etude House ambassadors, members of South Korean boy band SHINee appeal to the beauty brand's customers with their sweet and playful personalities.


    Sep 20, 2013

    The allure of Korean poster boys

    WHAT do you get when you put together an international all-male music sensation and a perfume targeted at women?

    A massively successful product, apparently.

    Just look at the debut fragrance by British boy band One Direction.

    When Our Moment - a sweet and fruity fragrance in a pretty pink bottle - was launched in Britain last month, it was reportedly sold out within minutes as fanatical One Directioners (what the group's fans are called) rushed to snap up anything bearing their idols' likeness.

    The pop quintet are not the first male celebrities to turn on the charm to sell women-centric products.

    You may remember Hollywood hunk Brad Pitt fronting classic women's perfume Chanel No. 5 last year, and Canadian pop prince Justin Bieber putting out a range of OPI nail polishes in 2010.

    Bieber, 19, also has a couple of successful fragrances to his name.

    Still, using men to market female beauty products is not just a popular strategy in the West, but also in the East - particularly in South Korea.

    Stroll though Seoul's shopping streets and one will spot male celebrity standees and their pretty faces plastered on billboard ads of the country's home-grown beauty brands.

    Take, for instance, South Korean skincare and cosmetics chain The Face Shop. It has a history of male celebrity ambassadors - from Kwon Sang Woo (2004 to 2007) and Bae Yong Joon (2008 to 2009) to current spokesman Kim Hyun Joong.

    South Korean beauty brand Tony Moly appointed another boy band, Super Junior M, to be its ambassador earlier this month, replacing male trio JYJ.

    Mr Kim Jung Cheon, Tony Moly's chief executive, explained the allure of male ambassadors in a Reuters report last year: "Using male K-pop stars charms the ladies. It may also prompt younger men to want to look more like these idols."

    Taiwanese celebrity make-up artist Kevin Chou, who is South Korean beauty brand Etude House's make-up ambassador, cited a Chinese saying that girls are wont to doll themselves up for the one they admire.

    "Using the products endorsed by these male celebrities gives fans the feeling of being close to their idols," he said.

    The draw of these poster boys for Etude House was felt here in Singapore recently at a private concert involving South Korean group SHINee, who are also ambassadors for the brand.

    Fans had to purchase Etude House products to be eligible for a lucky draw to win tickets to the event, and they certainly showed the brand their support. The concert drew a total of 3,500 people - mostly teenage girls.

    Asked why they make for better beauty ambassadors than female celebrities, SHINee member Jonghyun, 23, said: "All members of SHINee have a sweet and playful personality which resonates with the brand's aim to help girls (find) that sweet and playful princess within."

    Key, 21, the group's resident fashionista, said: "By enjoying make-up play, we hope that we can encourage girls to express themselves and exude confidence and passion for the little things in life."

    For some fans, though, the reason for purchasing products hawked by their idols is much simpler.

    Polytechnic student Samantha Ang, 18, who is a SHINee fan, said: "I buy Etude House products (simply) to support my idols."