South Korean design studio Superfiction tell us about putting the character back into branding.
Who'd have thought South Korea would be taken over by a three-person design studio? In the space of four years, the Seoul-based Superfiction have been tapped for branding projects as diverse as skin care, craft beer and smartphones, each time incorporating the same two mascots of Scott and Freddy.
The former of these is a sharp-looking city man in shades, and the latter a goofish yet gentrified man of the woods. Both small-eyed figures live in a whimsical rendering of San Francisco that looks like a 3D updating of Hergé; all of Superfiction's campaigns spring out from this world, and clients from Korea and abroad are queuing up for a dose of their cool yet cute magic. Count Digital Arts among that queue, as we recently contacted their director, also known simply as Scott, for a little insight into Superfiction's ever-expanding world.
GL: Uniquely, you use Scott and Freddy in all of your projects for clients. Why do you use these mascots so often in your work?
Scott: "From our inception, we've wanted to make Superfiction’s own characters and stories, and even when collaborating with clients, we thought utilizing our existing characters and stories was the main job. Clients usually approach us with our characters in their mind."
GL: After all these projects, do you feel 'close' to Scott and Freddy? What inspired these two characters?
Scott: "We feel like Scott and Freddy are our friends, but, as we made them, they also feel like our sons.
"Superfiction’s stories, characters, and visual components were inspired by all three of us. One of us listens to various music genres, so looks for inspiration through those. Another is interested in history and arts, and likes to study things deeply and come up with an idea. And the third Superfictioner is interested in various brands and fashion; they always pay attention to new items and create stories."
GL: Why did you choose San Francisco as home for your characters? Have you ever lived in the States?
Scott: "We were born in Korea and studied design in Korea. We have traveled to the US but never lived there.
"The abbreviation of Superfiction is SF. We named Scott and Freddy based on the initials S and F, and chose San Francisco - SF - as a place where their stories unfold. It’s not their hometown, but rather a place they live in now."
GL: You made a hilarious campaign last year for American advertising awards event The ANDYs, which showed the merciless treatment doled out to cute personifications of creative ideas. Was that inspired by any of your experiences with clients?
Scott: "Of course there are times our ideas are 'tortured' when we work with clients, but we don't necessarily think it is 'torturing.' We think it's a necessary step for a good project."
GL: In the world of advertising, who are your inspirations, and do any artists inspire your work?
GL: Do you think characters/mascots are popular with consumers, and in Korea is there a big desire for such characters? Why?
Scott: "Characters have been made popular by 'sticker characters' in messenger apps like Line from Japan and Korea's Kakaotalk. But the market for characters made by a design studio or an individual isn't as big. It's gotten quite popular in the past few years, and various collaboration projects are being done, so I think the character market is now growing in Korea."
GL: Which project are you most proud of to date?
Scott: "Our favorite project is collaborating with (French record and fashion label) Maison Kitsuné. The Parisian Toy we made with them is our most memorable experience; all of us are fans of the label because of their various activities, including music, fashion and coffee shops. As we make different things like stationery, eyewear and toys these days, we feel like they're a kindred spirit."
GL: What is the super-future for Superfiction?
Scott: "We'd like to make animation shows and expand into the US market. We'd like to strengthen our presence in online channels by creating games and emojis for messengers, and, at the same time, we would like show our artistry through exhibitions and sculpture.
"Also, creating revenues through making more campaigns is one of our goals. As you can do so many various things through characters, we try not to limit ourselves and paint our future big."