Korean ad spending is booming

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SEOUL--South Korean domestic advertising spending grew by its biggest leap ever in the first half of 2000. Industry observers predict spending could total $5.4 billion by yearend.

"We don't know what will happen next year, but for now it's going well," says a representative of Cheil Communications, Korea's biggest agency.

Economic recovery and free-spending Internet advertisers are driving the boom. Local media report that Cheil, Diamond Ad, LG and Oricom all saw record jumps in accounts, dwarfing the previous record year of 1996. Ad spending hit 4.6 trillion Won in 1999, up from 3.5 trillion in 1998, but well below 1997's 5.3 trillion Won and the record breaking 5.6 trillion in 1996.

However, foreign agencies are doing only moderately better.

"It's a good year for everyone, but the same boom is not generally being experienced," says John Down, president of McCann-Erickson Worldwide in Seoul.

"It's a better year, but the boom is basically benefiting the agencies dealing with the big chaebol. The big guys are back into spending a lot. The pie is much bigger, but it all goes into the same pockets," says Benoit Schaack, president of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide's Korean operations.

Copyright July 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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