SEOUL, April 19 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korean messaging giant Kakao is accelerating its efforts to expand the online presence of its much-loved emoticons by branching out into other services including Kakao TV and web portal Daum, as Kakao Friends has become one of the most recognized brands in the country.
Speaking to the press at an ‘Emoticon Creators’ Day’ event held at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) yesterday, Kakao officials revealed several plans, including one initiative to drastically expand the company’s emoticon service, while other plans will see the IT company give opportunities to amateur designers to boast their graphic design skills and release their own emoticons through Kakao’s platform.
From May 20, the famous Kakao Friends emoticons will make their first appearance on a number of services owned by Kakao, including the online music streaming service Melon, Kakao Music and online cartoon series on Daum.
Users of the aforementioned services will also be able to add Kakao Friends emoticons when writing comments and reviews.
“A trial run with 100 types of emoticons will take place next month to gauge the market’s response, while customizing the use of our characters, such as dog emoticons for online pet communities,” said Kim Hee-jung, who heads Kakao’s emoticon service.
The latest move from Kakao is expected to raise brand awareness, leading to more sales of Kakao Friends character products, from which both creators and the company can benefit.
Kakao emoticons are often chosen after characters created by independent designers and cartoonists get picked up by the company through its own evaluation process.
A new service called Kakao Emoticon Studio also drew attention at yesterday’s event at the DDP, to which anyone can submit their own characters, some of which will be sold on Kakao’s online emoticon store.
Kakao will also promote and encourage the use of its characters by other business enterprises, including credit card companies and telecommunications networks, by offering its emoticon service to them at a special price.
Since their introduction in 2011, more than 14 million people in South Korea have purchased Kakao emoticons.
Having marked their fifth anniversary last November, Kakao emoticons have been dominating the character product market in South Korea, with releases of a variety of products including web cartoon series, furniture, ornaments and dolls.
Last year alone, Kakao Friends, which owns the rights to Kakao characters, reported over 70.5 billion won in sales.
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)