Apple enlists K-Pop girl band in Samsung’s home turf of Korea

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Apple Inc. has enlisted K-pop girl band NewJeans to woo users in South Korea — the home ground of arch-rival Samsung Electronics Co. — as the world’s most valuable company bets on a post-Covid global rebound in spending.

The iPhone maker is opening its fifth store in the center of Seoul’s posh Gangnam district, with local media reporting plans to open a sixth this year. Seoul would then have more Apple Stores than in iPhone-loving Tokyo.

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In a rare promotional event on Wednesday, Apple set up a pop-up studio inside the new store, where visitors could listen to an exclusive spatial audio recording of NewJeans’s hit song OMG, which approaches 360-degree sound by adjusting the music to the movement of a device.

Apple is ramping up the offensive in Asia’s key growth markets. Earlier this month, the Cupertino, California-based company launched Apple Pay in South Korea, about a decade after releasing the service in the US. It’s also hiring employees to staff what might become Apple’s first stores in Malaysia, and has plans to set up its own retail outlets in India.

Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook also visited an Apple store in Beijing with other executives before attending a high-profile business forum in the Chinese capital last Saturday.

Apple now has a retail team of nearly 800 on the ground in South Korea, according to Patrick Schuerpf, director of Apple’s retail business in Asia.

Apple’s use of the K-pop band, backed by Hybe Co.’s label ADOR, is part of a playbook often employed by Samsung — which has a BTS edition smartphone — and Hyundai Motor Co., as well as luxury fashion brands Chanel and Dior. Such artist collaborations often go viral online and fuel demand from loyal fans.

Read more: Apple to begin making in-house screens next year in shift away from Samsung

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