CJ E&M: Creating a K-Culture in the U.S.
Buoyed by the success of K-pop music and K-drama television shows in Asian countries, Chairman Jay Lee, of the South Korean conglomerate CJ Group, believed that the time was ripe for taking Korean cultural content to the West. One initiative, carried out by the Group's Entertainment & Media (E&M) division, was a daylong fan convention, called 'KCON', that was held in Irvine, CA in October 2012 and which featured various Korean cultural elements, such as music, dance, film, and food.
In the spring of 2013, Miky Lee, the Group's Vice Chairman (VC), called a meeting with key executives to review the results of KCON 2012 and make a recommendation to the Chairman on whether to hold a similar event in 2013. As part of their deliberations, the executives were expected to consider where a potential 2013 convention should be held, which artists to invite, which target consumers to focus on, how to price tickets and how to attract more sponsors. With KCON 2012 having lost money, despite a robust turnout, it was far from clear whether to repeat the event and, if so, whether its scale should be expanded beyond 2012's $1.1 million budget. With CJ recently opening a chain of mid-market Korean food restaurants in the Los Angeles area called Bibigo, the meeting would also touch on the restaurant's U.S. growth plans and how they might be connected to KCON.
More broadly, the executives had to wrestle with the question of whether Americans would ever really embrace Hallyu, the Korean Wave, beyond one-off success stories like PSY's "Gangnam Style." And even if they believed so, was KCON the right vehicle to make it happen, or was the event just a waste of the company's time and money?
Keywords: global strategy;
Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues;
Entertainment and Recreation Industry;
Ofek, Elie, Sang-Hoon Kim, and Michael Norris. "CJ E&M: Creating a K-Culture in the U.S." Harvard Business School Case 515-015, January 2015. View Details