U.S. actress Sienna Miller, starring in G.I. Joe, the latest futuristic adventure flick, is speculated to be courted by LG for its new mobile phone.
By Kim Yoo-chul
LG's newest phone may soon get just the promotional kick it needs, as the world's third-largest handset manufacturer said Friday that it is in talks with "G.I. Joe" action star Sienna Miller for the soon-to-debut version of its Chocolate mobile phone.
"LG is close to striking a business deal with Miller for promotion, though more time will be needed to finalize it, as some technical issues still remain," an LG spokesman said, who didn't elaborate on the ongoing talks.
The company official, however, confirmed that the Hollywood celebrity has been linked to LG's "strategically important consumer gadget, which will be commercialized very soon."
The remarks came after Miller had a closed meeting with LG officials and product designers Wednesday in a Seoul hotel. She was in South Korea's capital city to promote her new movie "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra."
LG has just introduced the new Chocolate. The design-focused mobile is a part of the company's strategy to use powerful, attractive phones to eventually overtake its biggest cross-town rival, Samsung Electronics, in the global mobile phone market.
Samsung is the runner-up in the industry behind Nokia. LG recently overtook Motorola of the United States to become the world's No. 3 phone maker.
In terms of strategy, the companies are taking completely different directions.
Samsung is pushing tech-advanced phones equipped with the next-generation AM OLED screens, while LG's route promotes design- and content-focused mobiles by placing "consumer-insight" at the top of it's agenda.
LG Electronics is well known as a "design factory." For some strategic products, LG is hiring fashion icons to link its product images to better corporate images.
The company's next step will be to make premium products available in all its markets, a goal its CEO, Nam Yong, thinks will motivate his 86,000 employees.
"The organization gets excited about creating something unique and different from the rest of our competitors, not just creating ordinary products," a marketing executive told The Korea Times.
Although the LG name has been a brand in most markets for a decade, the company has come out with a few hit products, including a 2006 steam washing machine aimed at eco-minded consumers and designed to cut water and detergent use.
Last year, the company got model Natassia Malthe to promote its "Scarlet" flat-screen TV. The marketing ploy, part of a $100 million global advertising and marketing campaign for LG, is an attempt by the South Korean company to overcome the commoditization of the television business.
"The celebrity-product marketing scheme has been paying off. The new Chocolate phone is a key item for us in the second half," the company spokesman said.
LG has sold well over 13 million Chocolate phones since its global debut in May, 2006. The Chocolate and LG's second Black Label phone, the Shine, have turned around LG's money-losing cell phone business. It also launched a co-branded handset with Italian designer Prada.
"The new Chocolate matches LG's design innovation. That's why we need a fashionista to build up our brand image and grab attention," according to the marketing official.
LG is pushing for more affordable platform models. But the success of the platform business is directly linked with corporate images, analysts say.
"After brand familiarity has been boosted via a series of celebrity-product linking promotions, then we will increase the number of distribution outlets," another company spokesman said.
Distribution outlets are cited as another weak point for the company, making it difficult to significantly increase its low-end models in emerging markets.
With strong distribution outlets, a result of strong brand images, numbering some 100,000 locations in India and 60,000 in China, Nokia is increasing its spending on low-end phones. Samsung Electronics has also been in line with Nokia, increasing the number of its outlets.