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SAMG animation hits No.1 in China, LatAm; eyes 2022 IPO

Will beef up its overseas operations via partnerships and merchandise exports

By Jul 13, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

SAMG Founder Kim Su-hoon
SAMG Founder Kim Su-hoon

South Korea-based 3D animation company SAMG Entertainment Co. is enjoying great success in China and Latin America thanks to its animation series' popularity on the countries' over-the-top (OTT) platforms.

The company's animation series Mini Force and Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir has become the No. 1 show on Tencent Video in China and also on Disney Plus in Latin America.

According to the company's Chief Executive Kim Su-hoon, SAMG's diverse intellectual property (IP) portfolio alongside years of experience in cross-border collaborations have been the driving force behind the company’s international success.

EFFECTIVE CONTENT LOCALIZATION KEY TO SUCCESS

CEO Kim majored in electrical engineering in college, during which time he became interested in arts and computers. Naturally, he began to explore the world of graphics, which led to the launch of SAMG in 2000.

SAMG holds more IPs than other domestic animation companies. For example, the company's animation hits include Mini Force, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, Catch Ping and Monkart.

"Most Korean animation companies hold one or two IPs, but we have six which can be used in various ways," said Kim, adding that SAMG has co-produced eight feature films with foreign partners.

SAMG's popular animation series, Mini Force (Courtesy of SAMG)
SAMG's popular animation series, Mini Force (Courtesy of SAMG)

According to Kim, the cross-border collaboration with artists from major countries such as the US, France and Japan gave him insight on how to localize and produce content that would appeal to toddlers in foreign countries.

"For example, there's a greater preference for animal animation in China than in Korea. So we localized our content there by offering more animals and action, which children love," said Kim.

Kim's localization tactic was effective. The animation series Mini Force pulled in over 17 billion views on Tencent Video thanks to catering to Chinese children's tastes.

According to Kim, Chinese platforms continued to air SAMG's animation even during the country's ban on Korean content.

SAMG EYES 2022 IPO; EXPANDS BUSINESS IN CHINA

SAMG has been utilizing its IPs to branch out its businesses. It operates around 25 YouTube channels to attract global fans and increase its global presence. So far, its YouTube channels have around 26 million subscribers and almost 15 billion views.

All of the company's IPs are aired as animation, offered in 11 languages via subtitles and dubbing. The animation and characters are also sold as toys.

"Japanese companies utilize their IPs in various ways -- animation, toys and games. Japan used to be ahead in terms of making use of IPs, but Korea has caught up," said Kim.

Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir (Courtesy of SAMG)
Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir (Courtesy of SAMG)

In the second half of this year, SAMG will set up a corporate body in Shanghai. The company has inked partnerships with three major Chinese companies, including the entertainment label Wow Dadi, which invested around $10 million in SAMG in 2018.

According to Kim, the company will officially begin exports of merchandise and animation next year as well as pursue an initial public offering in Korea.

Write to Hee-kyung Kim at hkkim@hankyung.com

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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