Ticket Monster, an e-commerce company in Korea, faced harsh media criticism recently for running an ad that reminds people of the sinking of the Sewol Ship amidst continuing marketing controversies caused by its mismanagement.
On April 11, the third anniversary of the “Sewol Ship Incident," one image of Ticket Monster's product ad showed that water fills the half of a large glass, and a part of a ship model is under water. The ad copy read "Unsolved Mystery, the Titanic Hits Iceberg." As controversy brew, Ticket Monster apologized to customers for the ad and immediately deleted the ad.
However, some netizens criticized the ad, calling it a noise marketing scheme which made an improper use of the sinking of the Sewol Ship. They asserted that Ticket Monster ran the controversial ad to draw attention from people due to a drop in the number of customers. According to industry sources, the netizens’ opinions were fueled by Ticket Monster’s marketing mistakes that happened several times prior to the ad.
Ticket Monster sold the British luxury sedan Jaguar online last year. But controversy flared up as Jaguar Land Rover Korea, which supplies the Jaguar, announced that the automaker neither made official contacts with Ticket Monster nor had discussions about that matter with the online retailer.
Last November, Ticket Monster sold 43,300 100,000-won mobile cultural gift certificates to consumers. However, gift certificates that had already been used were delivered, and deliveries of new gift certificates were delayed for more than a week. Customers asked for refunds, but Ticket Monster did not take appropriate action.
According to the office of lawmaker Yoo Eui-dong, Ticket Monster accounted for 63% (78 cases) of complaints filed against social e-commerce companies during the first half of 2014. In 2015 and last year, problems such as customer information mismanagement came up, giving rise to an internet Ticket Monster boycott cafe.
Meanwhile, according to industry sources, Ticket Monster received an investment of about 80 billion won (US$72 million) from Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) and an investment of about 100 billion won (US$80 million) from Simone Asset Management over the past five months. So the two investments totaled about 130 billion won (US$117 million). The two investments were made in one year since NHN Entertainment’s investment of US$ 40 million (about 47.5 billion won) in April of last year.
It is said that last year alone, Korea’s three major e-commerce companies such as Coupang, We Make Price, and Ticket Monster posted a combined loss of more than 800 billion won (US$720 million). Thus people are paying much attention to whether or not Ticket Monster will be able to ride out such a crisis with these investments.