Ad Nut
Sep 6, 2018

This Korean Air ad has first-class style but economy copy

Ogilvy Shanghai's new campaign scales new heights of vagueness.

If there’s one way to get on Ad Nut’s good side, it’s to produce work with darn pretty visuals. With practical sets, inventive production design, fluid animation, and a K-Pop dance break, Korean Air’s latest certainly has that in spades. But it’s hard to tell if this video by Ogilvy Shanghai has any meat to go along with its flashy style.

The ad begins with a handsome businessman on the go, standing in a 1970s sci-fi chamber of tunnels, like you do. A choice lies before him: two dull, drab gates of boredom or a mysterious centre door of wonder marked 'Go Korean'.

Brilliant. Within moments the viewer is grabbed; what mind-altering, life-changing event lies beyond that portal? We. Must. Know. Now.

But the answer is snacks. They’ve got snacks.

In an instant, we are transported into infomercial territory. A remarkably wooden-sounding female narrator intones:

“Of all the ways to go…”

Such tension!

“What if you go Korean?”

Simply masterful. The man is strolling with his wheely case through the magic door...

“Go Korean for the food” our narrator reveals, before launching into a 25-second endorsement of Korean Air’s farm-to-table approach.

Look, munchies are great and all. Eating is a thing you do indeed get to do on planes, or so Ad Nut’s been told. But it’s debatable if that should be the opening salvo of an airline’s new flagship rebrand video, especially if you’re selling Korean Air as some kind of out-of-this-world experience.

But weirdly enough, sky-high cuisine is literally the one and only definitive product feature the ad mentions. It’s all we're told is at the other end of a real Korean Air boarding gate. What follows is a barrage of meaningless fluff that does nothing but melt Ad Nut’s poor little brain.

The narrator pipes up again as a strikingly pretty animation transitions in, saying, “There is attention to detail...designed to make travel better...from the inside...out.”

What does that mean? Seriously. Where is the detail?

She continues as a dance sequence begins, “Go Korean to discover something new. Where different is culture...comes alive”. Has she got the plane mixed up with the destination itself?

Seriously, there’s no attempt at a “it’s cheap but good value” pitch for the economy fliers, or an “ultimate luxury for the elite” sell for first class. The ad ends, and all we know is we're going to be fed and that K-Pop is still trending high. Ad Nut pictures the brief as something like a polaroid of the farm inside a Big Bang CD.

“Go Korean” is Ogilvy Shanghai’s first campaign for the airline since they were made the lead of Korean Air’s global content hub. As Ad Nut said, it’s an impressive watch in that the production is absolutely gorgeous. And yes, without a doubt, this ad is a crowd pleaser. But the crowd does not consist of consumers, rather Korean Air communications staff, the potential investors they’ll show this to in meetings, and the video crew who will proudly put this music video on their showreels.

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.


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