Byravee Iyer
Jun 23, 2015

Cannes: Why Innored is winning in Korea

CANNES - South Korea’s advertising industry is infamous for working late hours, but one independent upstart is changing stereotypes in an effort to become the country’s “most beloved” company.

Seo and Choi speaking at Cannes
Seo and Choi speaking at Cannes

Although South Korea is the 11th biggest market globally in terms of ad spend, the top ten agencies own 85 per cent of the market. Furthermore, most large organisations, or chaebols, including Samsung, LG and Hyundai have their own agencies.

“People are suffering from too much work,” said Min Seo, campaign director, Innored. “If an agency isn’t big or in-house it’s really tough to survive.”

Sehgeun Choi, creative director of the firm said that Innored's creative success has much to with the way it treats employees. Often, they reject clients simply based on their work ethic.

“Can we show our passion? Are we allowed to experiment while working normal hours?” are some of routine questions they ask potential clients. The agency claims to have received nearly 150 requests in 2014 but decided to take on just 10.

“Making profits is meaningful for stakeholders. But for employees, it’s meaningless and to become a beloved company we have said goodbye to clients who restrict our vision,” Seo added. 

Small, meaningful steps, it appears has gone a long way. 

For the last seven years, the company has taken a photograph with its employees every single day – “because photos make people smile”. The digital agency treats employees to a movie every month. It has launched an app via which employees, once every month, can punch a button and come in to work two hours late. On good weather days, the office shuts at 3pm. And on lucky days, if the firm’s Facebook post garners 10,000 or more likes—staff can go home any time of the day.

The results: the duo claim that the agency's average “quit” rate has been under 5 per cent for the last eight years; brands like Twix and Huggies are open to the agency’s experimental format; and finally, Innored was named the most creative digital agency by GFK.






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