1:15 am - 01/17/2013

SM's blatant payola, media play for SNSD exposed

SNSD have been around for over half a decade now, releasing hit after hit in Korea, and debuting in Japan with arguably their best and most complete work to date. Still, despite that, all the hype in the Western media seemed to center around 2NE1/YG Entertainment for whatever reason. As far as over-the-top annoying media play went, 2NE1 was definitely leading the K-pop pack in the West, which I would know because it’s generally what I focus on. Sure, SNSD would get the occasional mention for their success/sales, and they did end up performing on the Late Show With David Letterman, but a lot of that coverage either seemed sparse, dissipated quickly, or was negative in nature.

As such, I was a bit surprised that SNSD and their new track, “I Got A Boy“, was getting so much attention from the Western press recently. It’s not just because I didn’t like the track (there are lots of songs that I don’t like which are popular with others, obviously), but rather because I didn’t understand what was going on.

“I Got A Boy”, for SNSD’s standards, has sort of bombed in Korea thus far. They’ve sold 319,824 copies digitally in the first week, which pales in comparison to the sales of their own sub-unit, Taetiseo, who clocked in at 604,870. Hell, for apples-to-apples sake compare it to their last Korean album, “The Boys“, which clocked in at 759,463. The fact of the matter is that “I Got A Boy” got more than doubled up by Lee Hi, almost tripled up by Big Bang, and was even outsold by miss A. Now obviously sales don’t indicate musical quality, but as a pop act, that’s basically what they exist for, so to say the hype surrounding this song is to be expected is disingenuous at best.

So if the hype is not based on performance, it must be based on quality, right? Hell, allkpop called “I Got A Boy” maybe the best K-pop song ever, so that’s why Americans must be all over it, right? Well … maybe not*.

*This is besides the fact that Western publications attach themselves to the teet of the K-pop fandom to leech pageviews and popularity and whatever else.

With an American advancement likely incoming in 2013, the answer to why they’re getting so much more media play than before from the West should be fairly obvious. And while it took about a week for me to fully process what was happening, this e-mail via Cornerstone, a public relations and marketing agency based in New York, basically affirmed to me what was happening behind the scenes.

Asian Junkie: Kpop’s Next Viral Smash GIRLS’ GENERATION // Topping the Billboard Charts // “I GOT A BOY” is #2 Most Watched Video onYoutube, Reached 20 Million Views in 5 Days

Just wanted to share some of the latest news about the 9-member K-Pop phenomenon Girls’ Generation, who are currently experiencing some MAJOR Billboard Chart success. (See the screenshots below: Most Popular Youtube Songs, Heatseekers Albums, KPop Hot 100, & World Albums)

After releasing their new video single “I Got a Boy” on January 1st, the clip has been racking up some MAJOR VIEWS on a global scale (currently well over 25 Million views, and still going strong). Right now, this is shaping up to become one of the first viral smashes of 2013: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq7ftOZBy0E

I’d love to spread the word to your readership — any spotlighted coverage you can provide would be fabulous!!!
The girls have extensive plans for the US during 2013 — much more news will be announced soon!

Randall Roberts at the LA Times weighed in, referring to the song as a modern-day “Bohemian Rhapsody”: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-girls-generation-i-got-a-boy-20130105,0,3423565.story

Billboard published an extensive track-by-track review of their new full-length album (Also named I GOT A BOY & released on January 1st): http://www.billboard.com/new-releases/girls-generation-i-got-a-boy-track-by-track-1008068002.story#/new-releases/girls-generation-i-got-a-boy-track-by-track-1008068002.story

All of this makes sense in terms of marketing strategy (target audience), as Cornerstone themselves say:

Cornerstone’s clients seek out its services to help them reach the age 18-35 demographic with strategic marketing and branding campaigns and for its experience in the music industry. Pepsi-Cola North America’s VP of portfolio brands Frank Cooper described the firm’s capabilities as a rare combination, saying in an interview that they understand the record industry while not being confined by it. They have great creative instincts, strong research, and they understand how to work with large companies. Geoff Cottrill, Converse chief marketing officer, said their understanding of pop culture and youth marketing is really unrivaled in their space.

In addition to strategic lifestyle marketing and creative services, the agency’s practice areas include digital marketing, radio promotion, brand consulting, music supervision and Cornerstone Public Relations, a full-service PR firm.

Perfect fit? Perfect fit.

Trying to make “I Got A Boy” the next “Gangnam Style” seems like a stretch, but that’s exactly the route a marketing/public relations firm should be taking. Shameless? Sure, but that’s the business*.

*Why would a marketing and public relations agency send a blatant hype e-mail to a cynical, irrelevant site like this? I honestly don’t know. No such thing as bad publicity, I suppose.

I’ve previously covered how the PR machines have operated in regards to Japan, so I’m assuming seeing this in effect in America is going to get annoying even quicker because of the relative closeness of it. Realize that SNSD isn’t the lone wolf here, as 2NE1 and others will start up the hype machine again soon enough, because as the Hallyu Wave starts to wane a bit in Japan, their industry structure needs another big market to boost revenue, and America would serve it nicely.

The rumblings about SNSD and others in K-pop trying to ride the remnants of the Psy wave now seem unnervingly accurate, and it appears the hype machines will be in full effect for all of this.

In the end, the only thing I’m sure of is that unlike Psy’s initial viral spread, the hype for these idol groups will be anything but organic and authentic.

Source - AsianJunkie

I mean really, how obvious is it that SM/the Korean government is paying for all of this? I wonder how much their monthly check to Billboard is to mention them every five minutes. all the paid-for premieres on Ryan Seacrest and Rolling Stone blurbs in the world can't save this mess tho, what a waste of taxpayers' won!
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sungmin 16th-Jan-2013 06:30 pm (UTC)
lol ok
es2pido 16th-Jan-2013 06:33 pm (UTC)

Edited at 2013-01-16 06:33 pm (UTC)
uchuufuku 16th-Jan-2013 06:33 pm (UTC)
scandal of the century SM hires a PR firm
_lightmycandle_ 16th-Jan-2013 06:38 pm (UTC)
kapuway 16th-Jan-2013 06:40 pm (UTC)
uniqlos 16th-Jan-2013 06:41 pm (UTC)
Hell, for apples-to-apples sake compare it to their last Korean album, “The Boys“, which clocked in at 759,463.

ugh fuck that shit, the boys was terrible. i can't with people's taste rn. i hope this doesn't scare sme off into making snsd regress back to their kissing you days.

tho in hindsight i wonder if jyp is pressed he let sunye go and get married lol he could've given the wg a rushed comeback with all the retro stuff that korea loves them for rn lol.

Edited at 2013-01-16 06:45 pm (UTC)
uchuufuku 16th-Jan-2013 06:46 pm (UTC)
YES, I wouldn't give a second thought to public reception except I'm so happy this group I love started making music that's actually exciting (I know taste differs but IGAB to me is just magic). If this scares SM off and they come back playing it safe & generic it's going to be so sad...
hellodee16 16th-Jan-2013 06:43 pm (UTC)
I need to slap this Randall Roberts.
xalexandriam 16th-Jan-2013 06:46 pm (UTC)
Nothing about this is surprising, but SME is kidding themselves if they think soshi is going to be the next big pop act in the US.
drfaith101 16th-Jan-2013 06:51 pm (UTC)
They certain believe it atm
niav 16th-Jan-2013 06:53 pm (UTC)
it's pretty standard for musicians and music acts to have press releases that look more or less exactly like this sent out to most major music sites and publications whenever they release something. working in pr, i've emailed press releases that look a lot like that one. all this really tells us is a) rolling stone, vice and the other publications didn't stumble upon i got a boy by accident (but not necessarily that they were paid, just that they were informed) and b) cornerstone should probably do a little bit more research about the nature of the sites they email their press releases to.
the_erotomanic 16th-Jan-2013 08:49 pm (UTC)
all this really tells us is a) rolling stone, vice and the other publications didn't stumble upon i got a boy by accident (but not necessarily that they were paid, just that they were informed)

p3rk3le 16th-Jan-2013 07:01 pm (UTC)
lmao. but unlike people who are already into kpop, my friends who don't like it actually like 'I got a boy' way more than any other snsd song i've made them listen. so, sure they're trying to promote them, but how about you make some coffee and wait for a bit..?
bubble_monkey9 16th-Jan-2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
Randall Roberts at the LA Times weighed in, referring to the song as a modern-day “Bohemian Rhapsody”

kohaku_chuu 16th-Jan-2013 07:29 pm (UTC)
Appropriate gif is absolutely appropriate.
djlancerock 16th-Jan-2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
is dat photo new
soramai 16th-Jan-2013 07:19 pm (UTC)
I already read it in AJ. I can believe it.
izabera 16th-Jan-2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
we need a media play tag
anyway this is all legal PR stuff.

I'm more interested to know how much the big three paid to get these ridiculously unbalanced reviews in foreign media.
Must have been tough for JYP since they're not exactly rolling in cash, but it doesn't matter now that WG won't be promoting in the US anymore.
soramai 17th-Jan-2013 09:47 am (UTC)
we need a media play tag

lysblack 16th-Jan-2013 07:24 pm (UTC)
lmao SM i'm sorry, if you have to have that many people trying to convicne that the new song is 'omfg amazing!' it means it isn't.
asnindie 16th-Jan-2013 07:48 pm (UTC)
It's abit embarrassing but it's PR, it happens all the time with all the companies. People acting like SM is the Illuminati or something.
erbalurbal 16th-Jan-2013 07:52 pm (UTC)
Did people really think K-pop made it to western media because of the hallyu wave? Obviously there are people behind the scenes promoting kpop but that doesn't mean they are paying everyone to write good articles .

The "I hate it so everyone else must hate it" mentality is starting to get annoying.
imyoona 17th-Jan-2013 12:28 am (UTC)
yes! Everyone is different, humans are all fucking different. Let people like/dislike the song on their own terms and not be criticized for having their own opinions.
cee_90 16th-Jan-2013 07:59 pm (UTC)
I miss tiffany's short hair in that pic~! and their outfits too! Love it when the girls wear simple outfits <3
aeries_amethyst 17th-Jan-2013 06:55 am (UTC)
Tiffany really needs to go back to short hair because her long hair just isn't working for me any more =/

stephantasm 16th-Jan-2013 08:14 pm (UTC)
If SME could throw a few dollars my way, I'll tell people that SNSD will be bigger than Destiny's Child and that Taeyeon is a better singer than circa 1995 Mariah Carey.
boba_holic 16th-Jan-2013 10:13 pm (UTC)
lol a+

Edited at 2013-01-16 10:13 pm (UTC)
kneekalies 16th-Jan-2013 08:42 pm (UTC)
lol okay
puffy_wuffy 16th-Jan-2013 08:48 pm (UTC)
I could understand the government's desire to throw their lot in with SNSD versus 2NE1 . . . the whole image that SNSD portrays for songs and videos is much more wholesome (whether the members like it or not), lacking in guns and the whole modern ouevre of loose, flashy, violent art. PR for music in the US is also similar to SM's current tactics, and its no surprise since LSM got most of his ideas from the US. SNSD and the SM machine is tossing tickets and merch to fans in and outside of Korea for spreading the word about SNSD, head to any of their fanpages to get more info if you're interested.
aleexnews 16th-Jan-2013 08:54 pm (UTC)
I think people have missed the point this article is trying to make because of the ridiculous title and commentary by OP..

PR is obviously something essential for every company and their artists, thats not the problem imo, the problem here is that a lot of people, SONEs in general, don’t recognize or like to admit that PR is the reason such ridic articles have been written by American media. So many SONEs like to act like the reviews IGAB has been getting are because the song is so amazing and that critics actually love the song. Or like the comparisons and the *~revolutionary~* praises are genuine when in fact they are not and sones need to come down from that cloud.

Other than that there's no problem with hyping your artists thru PR but it's embarrassing when it's put out like that and when fans try to act all mighty, especially when the song sux sfm

uchuufuku 16th-Jan-2013 09:15 pm (UTC)
Media outlets get sent a ridiculous amount of press releases like this all the time-- just because something like this shows up in a writer's email doesn't mean they're in any way obliged to write about them positively or at all. It's a bit over the top to say that everyone who has written something positive about IGAB has been somehow compelled to do so by a generic press release like this.
ashiva 16th-Jan-2013 09:05 pm (UTC)
Seems like normal PR stuff. Don't see any payola there. But in any case this song ain't gonna happen in US so SM is wasting their money for paying PR agency for promotion.
amy 16th-Jan-2013 09:35 pm (UTC)
basically all media is promoted this way in the us, though. a new album, show, movie, book etc will be passed around to just about every critic and media outlet in hopes that they'll pick up on it and promote it through positive reviews, but positive reviews aren't always what they get. there are no doubts that major media outlets like rolling stone and billboard get dozens if not hundreds of emails like this a day. you also have to remember that snsd is signed to interscope rn, who are probably doing some pr of their own with this song to hype up any us promos they have planned for snsd in the later part of this year.

i would put my money on the critics actually genuinely liking igab. it's not uncommon for critics to disagree with the opinion of the general public on things, but that doesn't mean they're always lying because they were paid off.
archenemy02 16th-Jan-2013 09:59 pm (UTC)
its true critics don't always agree with the public's opinions, but then critics also don't tend to agree with each other's opinions either. They generally will disagree on what parts of a song or album is good or what isn't, but pretty much every major publication in the US that has written about this are overwhelmingly in favor of the song. Critics are supposed to criticize at some point, or at least give a balanced view of what is done well and what needs to be improved, but all these articles are practically gushing about how revolutionary the song is, even going so far as to call it a 'bohemian rhapsody' of sorts. The exaggeration is so extreme (unless you are convinced the song is a work of art, of course) it's impossible not to raise suspicions about the true motive of the releases. Now that it's becoming obvious SM is in fact trying to promote SNSD in the states again, connecting the dots isn't difficult
shunluv 17th-Jan-2013 01:03 pm (UTC)
maybe they just butthurt because their group don't get as much PR from their company lol :P
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