First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alex Shin: Fortunately, Korea’s quarantine guidelines aren’t so strict. There are some limits for outdoor activities, but we are still doing OK.
Through difficult situations, we rely on each other more strongly and bonding together better than before.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Comma Entertainment.
Alex Shin: Seungteak Lee (CEO) of Comma Entertainment, studied finance in Sydney, Australia, and has been looking for business after coming back to Korea. I (Co-founder of Comma Entertainment) studied Hotel Management in Korea.
Seungteak Lee and I organized the event together, targeting exchange students and foreigners living in Korea. It was a successful event in Banyantree Hotel in 2015. So we continued making different events and found the company together as an event organizing company.
How does Comma Entertainment innovate?
Alex Shin: We started to organize our event in the Philippines and ASEAN countries. Our event became bigger and notable, so the HiteJinro (Korea’s liquor company) became our sponsor.
We usually organize their seasonal events, Christmas events, and Halloween events at hotels/clubs in each area (Mostly ASEAN countries like Philippines, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, and later expanded to the USA and Russia)
While organizing these types of events, we naturally managed social media to promote the event. And we found our talent in digital marketing.
So we expanded our business area to Digital Marketing and slowly expanded to all Advertising categories (Filming, Public relations, BTL Marketing)
We grew fast in both domestic & overseas markets.
Some Korean clients want to do marketing for overseas companies, and there are overseas companies that want marketing services in Korea.
So we do both inbound & outbound marketing.
Now we are an international advertising agency that operates marketing campaigns for international brands (Samsung Display, JagerMeister, HiteJinro, Sebang Global Battery, etc. just to name a few)
Our marketing service reaches almost all ASEAN Countries, the USA, Russia, Europe, and the Middle East.
Some interesting histories are;
We were the 1st Korean company that organized an outdoor festival in Saudi Arabia last year (2019 March), and we were the 1st company that organized the biggest EDM Festival in Cambodia.
You can refer to our Vimeo channel
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Alex Shin: All our off-line events are cancelled, and we can’t run festivals anymore.
However, fortunately, we have already grown as an advertising agency, not staying as an event-company.
So we are still running digital campaigns for our clients and making TVC & Digital Contents from Korea that can be supplied to overseas markets.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Alex Shin: We had an event that we already invested a lot of money in, but we had to cancel the event because of Covid 19.
We lost some money from the process, so we worked harder to cover the minus and remain motivated.
There are so many lessons and thoughts we felt this year. But just to mention the mainstream.
1) If we haven’t expanded our business area to general marketing, and if we stayed as an event company, we might have broken already. So we thought we should keep developing our business area & services to make it stable.
2) There’s always a way to overcome bad situations. It’s just a matter of how fast we can find the solutions.
Many companies still have a marketing budget & selling products actively. We shouldn’t stop putting effort into sending them new proposals.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Alex Shin: Our life was very dynamic since we had a lot of international marketing campaigns. We traveled around the world and almost traveled 300 days during the year.
Now that we can’t go around, it is true that life seems boring and less dynamic than before. But we keep thinking positive & telling ourselves that being healthy is the most happy thing in our life for now.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Alex Shin: We don’t really think we have competitors. We might have some companies to admire, though, such as Cheil WorldWide, Dentsu, and CJ ENM.
Those global advertising agencies might be our goal for the future, and we are working hard to become like them as soon as possible.
Your final thoughts?
Alex Shin: I think many people are struggling from this Covid 19 issue, including our CEO (Seungteak Lee) and myself. We are also having a hard time. But as I said, there are always survivors from difficult environments.
There are still a lot of companies spending huge marketing budgets, and I believe there’s more business for us in this huge world.
I hope all people can stay positive & strong so that we can share more successful stories in the future.