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Nur Imroatun Sholihat

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17 Feb 2024

Jannabi and Lessons of Storytelling (Part 1): The “Landmark”

  • February 17, 2024
  • by Nur Imroatun Sholihat

source: Hyundai

Journalist: “Everyone’s talking about the driveway to the past. To when do you want to go back to if you could visit?”  

Choi Jung Hoon: “Hmmm. The moment I decided to become a singer?  My mom always had her compilation album in her car and listening to it…”

Recently, I stumbled upon a captivating collaboration project between Hyundai and Jannabi titled “Pony”. It's not often that an advertisement captures my attention so thoroughly. This particular ad isn't just something to skip through—it's one I find myself happily watching again and again. Among the many factors contributing to its standout appeal, storytelling undoubtedly takes the spotlight.

Have you heard that storytelling is the future of advertising? In this instance, Hyundai borrowed Jannabi’s profound storytelling skills in a package with the story itself.

Jannabi, a South Korean indie band, has gained widespread acclaim for their exceptional lyricism, nostalgic melodies, and musical finesse. Their raw authenticity has endeared them to audiences across generations, propelling them to commercial success that surpasses typical indie boundaries. They became a prominent name, headlined big festivals, topped music charts, won awards, and appeared on major TV programs --all while keeping full control over their artistry. Becoming an independent artist while gaining mainstream recognition, don't you think it is too good to be true?

No wonder, people were curious about the secret behind Jannabi’s triumph in getting the best of both worlds. Frontman Choi Jung Hoon credited his mother's influence for inspiring his career path as a singer-songwriter. Her enthusiasm for music shared through car rides with him, introduced him to influential musicians and shaped his artistic ideals. This piece of story clicked with the fact that Jannabi’s songs sound like “the music you heard in your parents’ car”. It makes all sense that the band’s tunes always feel warm, nostalgic, and unique yet somehow familiar (and humans love familiarity). Walking on top of Jannabi’s noteworthy popularity, it instantly became a well-known story among South Koreans.

Hyundai, recognizing the potency of this narrative, seized the opportunity to advertise in a unique way. They collaborated with Jung Hoon to create a song inspired by his memories of listening to his mom’s favorite tunes in her Hyundai car. The video beautifully depicted him being transported to 1975 in a classic Hyundai retracing her youthful passion for music, closing it with a seamless transition to the present-day Hyundai model he drives. It's a subtle yet powerful message highlighting Hyundai's enduring presence across generations. They implied that the manufacturer has served South Koreans for generations without even saying anything about it in the video.

Through Jannabi's vivid storytelling and heartfelt expressions, listeners find themselves drawn into narratives that resonate on a deeply personal level. The song tapped into shared experiences and emotions of sitting as a passenger in their parents’ cars. The lyrics allowed listeners to empathize with the joy of youth, passion for something, and the dear memories of their parents. This is why storytelling will always win against any advertising methods. It evokes emotions that resonate with audiences, encouraging the listeners to reflect on their own experiences and relationships.


Heath and Starr in their book “Making Numbers Count” called it a “landmark”--where we leverage existing well-known information to create our narratives. As people already knew this “landmark”, it would be easier to take people on the journey. In this case, as the story of how Jung Hoon’s mom shaped her son's career was popular among the people, it served as the landmark that brought people into the narratives Hyundai wanted to create. This is a powerful move that I, as a storytelling enthusiast, must applaud.

In a world packed with advertisements competing for our attention, only the ones that touch our hearts and souls endure. Hyundai has leveraged Jung Hoon's stories about his passion for music and his bond with his mom which are potentially the collective stories of many people. The story belonged to many people and as an implication, it created an "unconscious" sense of belonging to Hyundai.

To conclude, the shift from product-centric advertising to narrative-driven storytelling has fundamentally changed the way brands connect with consumers. Because at the end of the day, stories are the things we remember, cherish, and share the most. They will stay forever with us. I meant, you still remember the fable or fairytale you heard as a kid, right? Those stories will forever etched in our minds, even without us trying. Those are the "landmarks" we all dearly keep in our hearts.

The "I Want to Touch People's Souls Like Jannabi's Songs", 



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