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Who Has Custody Over A City Brand? : Differences in the City Brand of Seoul Projected by Place Marketers and YouTube Content Creators

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Title: Who Has Custody Over A City Brand? : Differences in the City Brand of Seoul Projected by Place Marketers and YouTube Content Creators
Author(s): Gyldén, Sara
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research (2010-2017)
Discipline: Media and Communication Studies
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2020
In a global competition for resources, differentiation and visibility are key elements for winning. Even countries are not exempt from the efforts of creating a positive image for themselves. This favorable positioning in comparison to other countries is reached through planned branding efforts This Thesis focuses on studying a city brand of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The aim is to discover whether the city brand of Seoul presented on YouTube by official place marketers, such as the Seoul Tourism Organization (STO) and the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), differs from the city brand presented through user-generated content (UGC) created by the residents of the city. As a city brand consists of city perceptions of several diverse stakeholder groups, the differences and similarities between the Seoul presented on the promotional materials and the user-generated content have an impact on the city brand of Seoul. The research method used is qualitative video content analysis. The study includes a total of 59 videos, of which 28 are user-generated content on YouTube and the rest are official promotional videos of the Seoul Tourism Organization (STO) and the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG). The analysis of these videos is based on six primary categories and 24 subcategories, constructed from existing frameworks created by Beerli and Martin; Aaker; Anholt; and Margolis and Pauwels. As a result, four major differences in the projection of Seoul city brand between UGC and the promotional videos are found: representation of different seasons, nature as a tool, diversity of the city, and shopping and café culture as experiences. Additionally, five minor differences include family-orientation; emphasizing events; the focus of food and cuisine; public amenities, public transportation and getting to places; and prices. Furthermore, six major similarities, as well as two minor similarities are found: connection of nature and urban life, social media-readiness, coexistence of history and modern day, coexistence of people, editorial choices, vitality of the city, overcrowding, and safety. The more commonalities between the place marketer videos and the videos created by the stakeholders, the more cohesive, interesting, unique, and accepted city brand is possibly built. If the UGC and the promotional videos only had differences, the Seoul city brand would likely not be recognized or accepted by the city’s stakeholders and could damage the already existing city brand. The found similarities indicate that the place marketers and internal stakeholders of Seoul share perceptions of Seoul city identity to an extent where a strong city brand can be built. Additionally, the found differences indicate that the place promoters have made decisions on which stakeholder groups they wish to cater to more than the others. This is good, since lack of consistency and an effort to suit all target audiences simultaneously leads to diluting and weakening the brand.
Keyword(s): city brand city identity city image user-generated content YouTube video content analysis user-generated content kaupunkibrändi kaupunki-identiteetti kaupunkikuva YouTube videoanalyysi

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