I don’t take the subway very often here in NYC, but other local Beat staffers (and a smattering of other social media postings) have noted that Webtoon has launched a pretty prominent subway advertising campaign around town.
I witnessed these Webtoon subway ads myself last Friday night at the Bedford L stop – a complete takeover of the station, generally known as the “hippest” subway stop in NYC, the “Gateway to Williamburg” or (in the before times) “3 AM Saturday Night drunken trust fund party. ”
The campaign sounded intriguing, but until I saw it with my own eyes I couldn’t believe it.
Since the train was coming, I didn’t have a lot of time to investigate, just snap some pics, but the strips being promoted include Everything is Fine (43 million views), Homesick (56 million views) and (of course) Lore Olympus, the bestselling smash hit that has 1.1 billion views.
Webtoon is owned by Korean tech giant Naver, and has been doing all kinds of pacting, hiring and acquiring of late, including merging with prose UGC platform Wattpad, teaming up with DC, launching media deals, and just this week launching a more robust presence in France. Several digital comics have already been adapted for streaming – including True Beauty, Hellbound, and All of Us Are Dead, with a Lore Olympus animated show in the works.
These Webtoon subway ads are all part of a program to make Webtoon a prominent content studio worldwide, and this splashy campaign – complete with timely catchphrases about doom scrolling and so on – is certainly one way to do that.
Anecdotally, Webtoon has been spending a lot of money on advertising and marketing for a while, with a busy Instagram advertising program, and according to reports, even TV ads.
How much does all of this cost? Well, cable TV ads are surprisingly cheap, but a subway station takeover costs anywhere from $100,000 to $350,000, according to this story from a few years ago. Throw in some inflation and you’re probably looking at spend well into 6 figures.
So next time you demand that comics get a sophisticated advertising campaign remember – it’s already been done! By Webtoon!