‘Priceless investment’: Why PH telco Smart tapped Hyun Bin for new campaign

Bea Cupin

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‘Priceless investment’: Why PH telco Smart tapped Hyun Bin for new campaign
The South Korean actor's contract includes a Philippine visit with 3 events, but Smart says they'll have to 'work out' when that's going to happen

MANILA, Philippines – In a country where the latest K-drama isn’t just a novelty but a national obsession, it only made sense for Smart, one of two major telecommunication networks, to tap South Korean star Hyun Bin as the face of its latest campaign.

“It was natural for us…. It would have been crazy for us not to do it,” said Smart senior vice president Jane Basas in a digital press conference on Monday, June 1, to officially launch the telco’s newest campaign starring the Crash Landing On You heartthrob.

The new campaign, “Simple. Smart ako.” (literally: It’s simple. I’m Smart.), replaces the network’s “Live More” campaign. It’s also the first Smart campaign to feature a South Korean star.

The yearlong contract includes one Philippine visit with 3 events, although Smart’s corporate communications chief Mon Isberto is the first to say that there’s no definite date yet.

“We still have to deal with COVID-19, but he is definitely coming. When exactly, we’re going to have to work it out,” he said.

Everything – from the contract signing to the storyboarding to the shoot itself – had been done while Metro Manila, where most of Smart’s executives and creative teams are based, was under quarantine because of the novel coronavirus.

That meant Manila-based executives and creatives could no longer fly out to South Korea for the shoot. Campaigns and Grey worked on the TV ad campaign remotely.

“Technology brought about this project,” said Smart president Al Panlilio.

Teams in Manila and South Korea turned to videoconferencing to plan, storyboard, and execute the campaign. Hyun Bin himself joined in a video call with Smart’s Panlilio in between takes for the ad.

“He was smart, down to earth,” said Panlilio of Hyun Bin.

The Korean actor was easy to work with, according to Basas. “It was a breeze discussing with him what would be said on-cam,” she said.

Screenshot from Smart's Facebook page

While Basas declined to divulge how much Hyun Bin’s contract with Smart costs, she said it was a “priceless investment” for the company.

Feedback on Smart’s latest endorser was, as you’d expect, overwhelmingly positive. The teasers were so well received that the TV commercial leaked ahead of its intended premiere on Monday.

“We’re still trying to figure out how it happened. The long and the short is when you have this kind of good, exciting news, it’s hard to keep it in a bottle so it started making the rounds and it’s over the place now,” said Isberto.

Fans eager for more of Hyun Bin will have more to look forward to, as Smart is set to release a 2nd commercial starring the South Korean star. Hyun Bin merchandise – which include a 6’1″ standee – will be released beginning June 7.

Hyun Bin also sent back to Manila the jacket he used during the shoot, although Smart’s executives – a handful of whom were self-confessed fans of K-dramas – didn’t say who’d call dibs on it. – Rappler.com 

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.