History Changes
August 1, 2011 6:12 AM   Subscribe

"History Changes". LG Telecom is Korea's perennial also-ran in the mobile telephone market. Their latest attempt at coming from behind includes another revision to their brand identity: "U+", replacing 2009's "Oz" rebranding effort. With operating profit down by half since last year, they are anxious to prove that they are as good as, if not better than, their competitors Korea Telecom (KT) and SK Telecom. Now that they are offering 4G service almost as soon as KT, LG sees itself as making history in the same way Barack Obama did when he demonstrated the equality of everyone in the Korean telecom market United States. Text overlay on images of Jim Crow-era American South: "It was utterly impossible for a black person to become the President of the United States." Voiceover: "History Changes! Beginning with 4G service".
posted by holterbarbour (20 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
posted by infini at 6:25 AM on August 1, 2011

"hopejacking" was sooo 2009.
posted by Winnemac at 6:31 AM on August 1, 2011

So what LG wants us to take away from this in terms of their identity as a carrier, then, is that they're so eager to get along with KT and SK Telecom that they're going to talk a good game, but once you choose them they'll dick your service around with rate and data plan changes, narrowed evening and weekend windows, and confusing rollover policies anytime the other carriers tell them to and, at the end of the day, you'll conclude that you probably should have just voted for bought the incumbent's service in the first place and been done with it?

That's an interesting strategy. I don't really see what it good it does them myself, but I have to admit it's a popular one these days.
posted by Naberius at 6:45 AM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

things will never be the same again for the rest of the day. most epic thing i've watched on the frontpage in many minutes. kekekekekeke
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:46 AM on August 1, 2011

You realise your history isn't as important to Koreans as it is to you?

I'm struggling to find a Korean example, but Western adverts aren't shy to steal the worst of Eastern history and try and build brands from it.

An example.
posted by seanyboy at 6:48 AM on August 1, 2011

I'd try to find a parallel from Korean history, but nothing important has ever happened in Korea. ZING!
posted by 1adam12 at 7:02 AM on August 1, 2011

Does M*A*S*H count as an example of building a brand based on the worst of history?
posted by infini at 7:03 AM on August 1, 2011

You realise your history isn't as important to Koreans as it is to you?

Which still doesn't keep it from being crass marketing. Or do two wrongs make a right as long as the first one is done by Western Imperialist scum?
posted by yerfatma at 7:05 AM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Pepsi Cola on The Berlin Wall.
posted by seanyboy at 7:09 AM on August 1, 2011

yerfatma: All marketing is crass, almost by definition. I just find it difficult to get worked up about this when viewed through the lens of "Another countries history."

I really have no beef with "Western Imperialist scum" here. My point is simply those moments in American History aren't quite as important to Koreans as they are to you.

posted by seanyboy at 7:15 AM on August 1, 2011

I don't think Indians ever even noticed Telecom Italia's mashup of Gandhi's famous speech
posted by infini at 7:23 AM on August 1, 2011

Chevrolet co-opting Rosa parks and M.L.K. to sell trucks.
posted by seanyboy at 7:36 AM on August 1, 2011

Actually- That Chevrolet ad also appears to use footage of Katrina and 9/11 to sell you its product. Classy.
posted by seanyboy at 7:38 AM on August 1, 2011

Apple did it already -- with Gandhi and MLK no less. This isn't something all that exotic.

But I do wonder how a restaurant window with a sign reading "NO: Dog [or] Negro" resonates with a Korean sensibility, if you catch my drift. Do they think Americans used to be cannibals?
posted by spitbull at 7:39 AM on August 1, 2011

Three fifths cannibal.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:56 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Our relationship with our history is apparently shallow enough that we can be swayed by this kind of marketing.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:42 AM on August 1, 2011

OK so now I get it.

Back in the 1990s you had this war between several competing "2G" standards. The Europeans developed GSM as the first Europe-wide digital standard, the Japanese were developing something called PDC for the "Asian" market which they hoped to own. And the Americans were developing two standards: D-AMPS and IS-95.

D-AMPS and PDC were utter pieces of crap. IS-95 developed by Qualcomm (which is called CDMA today) was rather quite competitive with GSM. So it was a choice of GSM or CDMA.

So in reference to the advertisement, this was for LG just like the Jim Crow period of cellular: black or white, with white dominating black.

As it was already decided that GSM (white) would cover all of Europe, there was a mad effort on to get black or white adopted by national standards organs outside of Europe. Korea - with its big electronics industry and no blacks or whites of its own to promote - was one of the most important countries.

So again for LG this is like the civil rights struggle of cellular.

Qualcomm effectively lobbied the Korean government (with impressive leverage applied through a Qualcomm-friendly U.S. State Department) to adopt Qualcomm's CDMA technology instead of GSM. Qualcomm made huge promises to the Koreans, among others, that selecting a domestic CDMA standard would help Korean companies dominate the CDMA market. That the US - where CDMA was a national standard - would be an important export market for Korean companies like LG. And that as CDMA conquered the world, Korean companies would be market leaders.

I have a dream and all that.

As it turned out, few wanted CDMA (black). Being in the CDMA business was like being sprayed with water cannons.

More civil rights struggle.

The rest of the world selected GSM and learned to tolerate the existence of CDMA. They liked the basic technology so much (if not the inventors of it) that GSM became W-CDMA (3G) and now CMDA technology is also in LTE (4G.)

This for LG is like America electing a black man president.

So yes the advertisement really is quite analogous to the struggles of LG. Well done really.
posted by three blind mice at 11:02 AM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think they're counting on a lot of KT guilt.
posted by codswallop at 4:32 PM on August 1, 2011

Given the depressingly common demonization of blacks in South Korea, it's an even stranger choice of imagery and iconography.
posted by bardic at 6:21 PM on August 1, 2011

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