5 minutes with... in association withAdobe Firefly

5 Minutes with… June Park

Post Production
Los Angeles, USA
The Mill Seoul’s ECD tells Esther Faith Lew why nerding out on cartoons, animation and video games is the best thing to have happened to him

June’s affinity with Samsung started young when he was just 13. “I saw a Samsung Electronics TV ad where a ‘metallic’ man in full 3D, sort of like Dr. Manhattan and Silver Surfer combined, showed off a giant computer chip. I was like ‘wow’, ‘what did I just see?’ It left a huge impression.

Ever since then, he went “full nerd in cartoon, animation, and all kinds of video games”, which led him to pursue visual communications in his studies, and it opened the door to the world of advertising. “And like a dream come true, I spent most of my agency career working on Samsung’s flagship products such as the latest pre-releases, and selling them around the world with awesome content is truly a wonderful experience that never gets old,” says June.

June went on to garner invaluable experience as head of the metaverse creative team at Cheil Worldwide. He also played a huge part in metaverse content creation as the lead creative for Samsung’s virtual character GNUSMAS.

What keeps him going is a strong sense of “jealousy” as he puts it. “Every time I see a killer campaign, I get this flaming sense of jealousy and I use that feeling as a drive to push myself, to make a campaign cooler than that,” says June.

On a day to day basis, June stays in that optimal creative mind space by focusing on the guiding principles of Buddhism. “I have images of a gentle smiling Buddha on my laptop and tablet PC wallpapers to remind myself of Buddhism, which acts as a sort of compass that guides my life. Its logic and worldview holds me in place,” he says.

As the ECD of The Mill Seoul, June plays a key creative role as the studio expands internationally with a new facility in Seoul, South Korea. He has made his mark on global campaigns such as Samsung Electronics, Galaxy S series, Z Fold & Z Flip series, Hyundai Motors, Kia Motors, and Chevrolet (GM).

LBB> What made you decide to explore creative work with a studio/production house?

June> I guess the products of my client naturally led me to creative work with a studio. The variety of smart phones, foldable phones, automobiles, TVs, computers – and all the new products they launched every month –  led me to explore more creative methods in which to highlight their designs. And naturally, this led to a  tech shift in medium from traditional film to CG and VFX. 

With that, the scope of my work expanded. Not just in coming up with a story but also in ways to highlight the products so that they look more slick, capable, and user friendly. To create quality content, you need to come up with a brilliant creative, and also demonstrate prowess in pre- and post-production skills.

Along with that, as I encountered more clients dealing with metaverse content in web 3.0, I had to focus more on studio, production, and tech. This shift in focus  eventually led me to The Mill Seoul.


LBB> You were previously the head of the metaverse creative team at Cheil Worldwide. How does that exposure give you a leverage in your current role?

June> In Cheil Worldwide, I had valuable experience in working with clients who were aiming to transition into web 3.0 – a prime example being metaverse. Some chose a nimble transition into web 3.0 while some others made the strategic decision to wait and observe. It was very important to first understand what can be accomplished in the metaverse and to come up with a solid plan. I expect that those insights will help me to customise metaverse strategies and ideas that can be effectively implemented.

LBB> What is your perspective on the pros and cons of the metaverse? With hindsight, what have you discovered about it that works and what doesn’t?

June> It’s just a personal observation, but I think it’s rather too soon to say what really works and what doesn’t in the metaverse. If we compare its progress with that of the Earth’s history as an example, we’re at about Hadean Eon, when the Earth had just begun to form in some four billion years ago. So, looking at those who championed the web 2.0 era to eventually become an infrastructure of feasible technology, web 3.0 or metaverse transition will take a similar length of time. To prepare ourselves ahead of time, I think we need to make a continuous effort to transition the core values of web 2.0 into that of web 3.0.

LBB> How will you be pushing the agenda for new creative technology at The Mill? What are the trends you are seeing from client briefs and how will they be applied?

June> I think it connects in part to the earlier answer. Because of the immense potential of web 3.0 metaverse, almost all clients that I talked to were deeply engaged in building up strategy and planning for campaigns to solve their problems. I aim to combine my strategic experience in the agency with The Mill Experience team’s technological know-hows to offer high-quality campaigns to our clients.

LBB> In embracing new creative technology, how has it pushed your personal development and in your work? Give an example.

June> The making of the Galaxy S10 campaign was a good example of pushing creativity in creative technology such as web 3.0 metaverse. Back then, my team was at a crossroads in having to choose between using analogue film technique or full 3D digital technique. We were at an early stage of transitioning to digital in our work process, so we decided to play it safe by using both options. We ended up delivering in full 3D. 

That experience helped me step up a notch in becoming a creative director who is specialised in 3D graphics. The new creative technology enabled us to push the limits of a picture. Now, we can go beyond that and highlight dramatic form factors; light the product in various angles to emphasise material and colour; and deliver efficiency in UI/UX. Above everything, I was so thrilled that we could utilise tech-savvy content to capture the Gen Z trend.

LBB> Share with us some of your most memorable works and explain why they are significant?

June> There’s a perception that Samsung is a reliable, quality tech brand, but there was also a notion that it lacked emotional connection to its consumers. When it came to the younger generation, the brand had relatively lower relevancy to that market segment, and it pushed us to come up with a new way to communicate its brand value. 

We got this idea from a meme generated by our users: when Samsung releases ground-breaking products such as Z Fold and QLED TV, a secret alien employee helps Samsung behind closed doors. We went with this idea and eventually created a new virtual avatar called G.NUSMAS that appeals to Gen Zs. From developing its story, worldview and character design to the Unreal stage, this project was the most exciting work that I’ve done in recent years. 

LBB> In your previous campaigns for clients such as Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motors, and Chevrolet, what did you learn about the consumer behaviour for those markets and how they should be targeted?

 June> As the Millennials and Gen Zs come into play as mainstream consumers, the brands you mentioned are also transitioning from traditional platforms into platforms more specialised in SNS and metaverse. Yes, these brands produce appliances and automobiles that come with price tags a little out of range for younger generations. But they need to reconfigure their brand image to fit the younger generations, and to brand themselves in the minds of potential consumers in the future. 

While the generation seems to be quite polarised in terms of their spending habit, what wins their minds is understanding – that the brand is going down the same path that they are on. So, what I realised is that in order to reach out to their domain, we needed to put the understanding of the generation as the top priority and develop the creative brand message from there.

LBB> Looking forward, what can we expect from The Mill Seoul and how will it meet demands for creative work in Seoul? 

June> Whether it is in culture or technology, Korea boasts cutting-edge developments. This makes Korea an optimal choice for big tech companies and startups to deploy their pilot campaigns in this early stage of the web 3.0 era. 

We’re seeing a lot of client demand in this area at the moment, with brands looking for virtual avatars, experiences, metaverse platforms, NFTs, and so forth. So, I think that this setting is quite favourable to The Mill Seoul as we offer that balance between art and technology in our work.