37. It’s no mystery – abuse and misuse of the mystique trigger.

“Spark curiosity. Withhold information.
Build mythology.
And limit access.”

There’s always an excitement in the air when photos, music clips and bits of news hit the web about a new singer or band, especially in the Korean pop music scene. Compared to pop music in America, upcoming Korean pop artists or new albums, singles and videos seem to be much more intensely marketed prior to releases. Korean pop also heavily targets fans in foreign countries, creating a surprisingly large online fan base.  With today’s digital technology, Korean record labels make marketing pop music to a wide audience look extremely easy, successfully using social media like YouTube and Facebook; however, just because these record labels know they can easily reach millions of fans within seconds after clicking “Upload” doesn’t mean they can’t abuse their digital presence every now and again.

Top Korean record company S.M. Entertainment has been aggressively promoting their newest boy group, EXO, since the end of last year. I wrote a post about this group already about 2 months ago, then excited about the future possibilities of this upcoming talent. SMent was using a fun marketing technique, releasing a short video teaser every few days as a way to show off and introduce the 12 members. During the first few weeks, Kpop fans went crazy! Whether people loved it or hated it, people were talking about EXO. I was among the people who loved it! It was mysterious. Often, when a Kpop group is getting ready to debut, information about members is quickly made available for fans. With EXO, however, things were kept under wraps with SMent only revealing information little by little. It made me want to come back for more. I checked YouTube and the SMent Facebook page probably more often than I should have, wanting to fulfill this strange desire to learn more about them.

Fast-forward to today. The first teaser was released on December 21st. That was almost three months ago. We’re now on teaser #23. Yes. 23.

The difference between the first teaser and this one? 11 more members. We clearly know who everyone is now, and yet SMent continues to release teasers. Two full music videos have even been released.

While EXO has yet to make their television/stage debut (which seems to mark the official debut of a music group in Korea), it’s clear that their presence is known by fans, with their newest music video already reaching almost 1.5 million views in less than a week.

Sally Hogshead, whom I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, would probably say that SMent was using the mystique trigger to fascinate fans. Mystique is one of the more difficult of the seven triggers to master. Once a brand loses it, it’s tough to regain.

When only a few EXO teasers had been released, everything surrounding the group was oozing with mystique. Hogshead explains how this trigger is “rooted in unfulfillment.” Releasing a few teasers with only a few members is what left fans longing for more. There was limited access to information about the group. Now we know all the members. We’ve seen them dance. We’ve heard them sing. We know their names. The mystique SMent successfully created around EXO last December is fading fast. I think it’s time to focus on a new trigger and ease up on the teasers.

Now let me tie all this back in to digital and social media. Before this digital age we’re currently in, it would have been much more difficult for an entertainment company to do something like this. Being able to easily reach out to millions of fans across the globe at once was basically unheard of. Today, with social media, it only takes a few clicks.

Because using social media is easy, I think some brands use and abuse it. Just because SMent has the ability to produce and release teaser after teaser doesn’t mean they should. The teasers are basically all the same! A few teasers is exciting. 23 teasers is overwhelming. At this point, I’d rather hear about a stage debut or first mini-album. Originally, SMent was solving the problem of how to get the word out about EXO. Because they created this digital advertising strategy with a problem in mind, it worked very well in the beginning. Are the teasers still solving a problem? At this rate, we’re going to have seen all the choreography for whatever their next single is and have heard all the songs that will be on the first album. I think SMent needs to have EXO make their stage debut soon or ease up on the teasers. If not, I feel fans are going to start to lose interest.

Despite all my bashing, other than the endless EXO teasers, I think SMent has a fantastic social media presence. They promote their already-debuted artists extremely well through multiple Facebook and Youtube accounts. All the information they release has the interest of the fans in mind. Not once have I seen something and thought, “why are they posting this?”

I’ve seen how well S.M. Entertainment can market a group. I hope they have something different in store for EXO soon!


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