Park rises, Kim struggles in sports marketing
By Kim Tae-gyu
After Korean swimming sensation Park Tae-hwan was eliminated in all the preliminary rounds at the World Championships in Rome last year, the Beijing Olympic gold medalist simply disappeared from TV commercials.
Things have changed abruptly of late as the 21-year-old got a total of three gold medals to become a candidate of the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the just-finished Guangzhou Asian Games.
Kia Motor, the country’s second-largest automaker, started to air ads featuring Park this month and a storm of ads requests came to him,according to his agent SK Telecom.
``When Park topped the podium in the 400-meter freestyle in Beijing in 2008, he was cast in three TV commercials at once and in lots of ones for newspapers and journals,’’ SK Telecom representative Son Suk-bae said.
``His popularity waned in the aftermath of the failure in Rome midway through 2009. But he has regained his fame thanks to the exploits in Guangzhou ― we are currently swamped with ads requests.’’
Park’s mirror image seems to be the country’s other superstar Kim Yu-na, who won a gold medal in the ladies figure skater singles at the Winter Olympic Games held in Vancouver, this February.
The 20-year-old single-handedly dominated the nation’s TV commercial market early this year, appearing in several ads at the same time for home appliances, cars, milk and sneakers to name but a few.
She was cast in more than 20 TV ads this year alone to gain the moniker of ``TV ads queen.’’
However, the most sought-after superstar began losing her footing this summer after she split from full-time coach Brian Orser, who once appeared in air conditioner ads together with Kim, in the wake of a blame game.
Currently, merely a couple of TV ads are on air involving Kim as she fails to chalk up substantial results in the international events after her Olympic feats.
``Early 2010, there were just two types of advertisements on TV ― those with Kim Yu-na and those without her. But now the frenzy around her appears to be tailing off,’’ a Seoul analyst said. ``There are ups and downs for everyone. And she is seemingly on a down cycle.’’
The diverging fortunes of the two star players are also seen in the Google Timeline services, which track how often certain keywords have been searched for during a specific period.
The monthly number of searches for Kim peaked this February during the Vancouver Olympic Games but has shown clear signs of falling over the summer when the blame game with her coach hit the headlines.
In comparison, the number for Park was off to a weak start this year compared to that of Kim. But the figure jumped this month over the Asian Games, comparable to that for Kim in February.