Given the phenomenal popularity of his recent drama series Crash Landing On You as well as his classic K-Dramas like Secret Garden, Memories of the Alhambra, and My Name is Kim Sam Soon, Korean heartthrob Hyun Bin easily rose as the top choice for local mobile services provider Smart Communications as its ambassador next year. In the brand’s latest TV commercial, he blazes down the streets in a sports car before delivering the Filipino tagline.
“The genre best reinforces the role of communication in a global market. Passion can now be understood regardless of race, culture, and language," Smart SVP and Head for Consumer Wireless Business Jane Basas explained the popularity of Korean culture that has rippled worldwide, at a virtual press conference held earlier this month.
Which brought the brand to Hyun Bin, and his role in this fast emergence. "Hyun Bin represents dynamism in this digital world we now empower," Basas said. "The impact that he’s had not just talking about the message effectively but actually delighting and making our customers and subscribers happy during these times actually make him very, very priceless."
"I am a personal fan, Crash Landing On You was actually the first (K-Drama) I watched. Getting Hyun Bin was something that was natural for us because it would have been crazy for us not to do it,” she added.
[related: Hot Stuff: Hyun Bin's 'Secrets' Revealed On His First Philippine Media Interview]
The brand detailing the collaboration only revealed Hyun Bin as someone so easy to work with. Basas recalled Hyun Bin signing the contract only in April, with both parties proceeding to a month of work "completely online."
“We were determined to get the project done. One hundred percent of the project was done online from the planning stages to clearing the storyboard with Hyun Bin and his management to the pre-prod, to the actual shot to the post," Basas said.
"Working with his team was actually simple and easy because they understood the challenges that we were facing, that we were monitoring remote and then they were producing there. And we also had tight deadlines because we needed to do this quickly. An what was surprising was that like his character Captain Ri, he didn’t make a lot of fuss. They would tell us if it was doable or not and obviously they were working with diligence."
The brand shot the commercial in one day, with the help of a South Korea-based production team.
“We did photography at 1 o’clock and finished at about 6 PM just in time to finish the sunset theme. And from 6 PM to 12 (midnight), we shot the TVC and the videos in full," Basas narrated.
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Smart VP for Corporate Marketing and Strategy Lloyd Manaloto further talked about Hyun Bin's professionalism. “I think he’s very, very simple. The original storyboard was written in English and he was supposed to be doing the full V.O. (voice over). The shoot was on a Tuesday. He asked for a copy of the script on a Saturday so that he can practice. Imagine such a huge star wanting to practice and when he realized that he would have a difficult time voicing over the entire commercial, we kind of negotiated with him to say certain lines. It was a very easy conversation. It was a breeze discussing with him what would be said in front of the camera.”
From Korea, Hyun Bin apparently shipped over autographed jackets used in the campaign to the brand here in Manila. Manaloto said, “After the shoot, we requested for some of his jackets to be sent back to the Philippines. We didn’t expect him to send it with his signature. We actually have some souvenir items from Hyun Bin. He’s a very nice guy."
[related: Style Inspo: Hyun Bin's Easy Fashion Sense That Left Pinoys Smitten]
A Philippine visit
The Smart executives revealed bringing Hyun Bin to the Philippines as part of the pipeline—but with global travel mostly still on hold due to the pandemic, it will have to wait.
“It’s not yet definite when he is coming because we have to still deal with the COVID situation, but he is definitely coming. So, when exactly, like I said, we’re going to work it out. Don’t worry, yes he will be coming and we will certainly announce it and give all the advance information when that time comes," Basas said, mentioning three events included in the contract. "We are planning these events. We obviously expect thousands of people to want to be a part of it and given the guidelines on GCQ, we may have to wait."
But, mind you, Hyun Bin is already looking forward to this trip, Basas said.
"He’s so excited to come. He actually told us that he would’ve wanted to be here during the launch of the TVC. So, we’re really, really praying that flight restrictions are lifted soon and that things go back to normal, so that we can make more people happy,” she enthused.
Aside from the nationwide ad campaign, the brand revealed releasing Hyun Bin merchandise—limited-edition pillows, posters, standees, and even tabletops—as part of its future promos.
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Photos courtesy of Smart and Metro.Style