Shortlisted 2019

Travel & Tourism


Korean Air

Entered by:

T Brand Studio, The New York Times



Pinpoint Precision

The Challenge

Korean Air is the largest commercial airline in South Korea, servicing more than 120 destinations internationally. The aviation sector in the Asia-Pacific is highly competitive and one of the world’s biggest markets. In the region, Korean Air’s competitors include Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines, making it crucial for Korean Air to increase market cut-through and brand awareness. The goal for the branded content (within which sits the video) was 60,000 page views.

In the lead up to the Winter Olympics, Korean Air wanted to create a branded content campaign that aligns with
newsroom coverage. Even though Korean Air was a sponsor of the Winter Olympics, other legal and rights
complications surrounding the athletes and the event itself meant we weren’t allowed to feature  prominent/professional athletes or mention the Olympic Games. This was a significant challenge given that Olympic
alignment was a primary objective for the client. We eventually identified a young speed skater who had broken the
national record the previous year but was too young to qualify for the Olympics.

We also had to work under a tight timeline of five weeks. In this period of time, we identified the subject,
coordinated and conducted the film shoot and finished editing the film (with translated subtitles). As the subject
doesn’t speak English, we had to engage a translator and a fixer to smooth the language barrier.

The Strategy

Reaching The New York Times’s global readership of more than 150 million unique readers requires a deep
understanding of user behavior within The NYTimes digital ecosystem. We leveraged an internal proprietary tool
called Readerscope to ascertain the type and form of content that would resonate among our target audience. We
decided that a subject-driven profile with a clear, simple but impactful story tended to perform better and that a
short video would probably be the best mechanism to deliver the story in a clear way. Additionally, based on our
understanding of our readers’ behavior on site, we were able to drive the branded content specifically to NYTimes
readers who are international travelers, our client’s most relevant target sector.

New York Times readers also expect their consumption branded content from T Brand Studio to be a seamless
experience as they read newsroom articles. As such, we only included very subtle brand mentions of Korean Air and
approached the content from a journalistic perspective.

To overcome legal and licensing obstacles, we knew that we couldn’t profile a professional athlete, so our strategy
was to craft a compelling story around a young non-sponsored athlete who’s credible at a winter sport.

The Implementation

T Brand Studio created a digital campaign in the lead-up to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Seoul that ran from Feb. 2 to 25 2018. The video-led Paid Post — a dedicated webpage hosting the branded content that lives on —
introduces readers to the world and techniques of speed skating through the portrait of a 16-year-old South Korean
speed skater who set a record in his category championships in 2017.

Leveraging the storytelling approach of the newsroom, we commissioned a video team to fly in from the U.S., hired
a Seoul-based fixer and sent the Hong Kong-based T Brand Studio editor during the production period.
Our video impresses on readers the level of precision it takes to reach high velocity on the ice. Shot in Seoul, it tells
the story of Lee Byung-hoon. The young speed skater explains why he loves the sport and outlines his training
regimen, while his coach emphasizes the key factors that affect velocity, highlighting details about his coaching

We also complemented the video with an originally reported article and drew parallels between the level of precision
needed in the sport and in delivering a seamless flight experience. Finally, we included an illustrated carousel that
spotlighted the attentive services offered by Korean Air.

The Result

Video performance was outstanding, outperforming all benchmarks and achieving some of the highest completion
rates seen at T Brand Studio. An extra 7,250 views were delivered via CPV as added value. Social media CTR was
above benchmark on both Twitter and Facebook. Across all activity, over 90 million impressions were served. Here
are some key figures:

76,444 — total page views
61.06% — total video completion rate (+30% vs. benchmark)
19.09 % — video start rate (+169% vs. benchmark)
1:47 — total session time on desktop
89, 331,799 — total onsite impressions on NYTimes