Interview: Jin Kim

Born in Korea but raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jin’s life and career revolve around his distinctly multicultural perspective on people, brands, and the stories that connect them.

In addition to providing international campaign strategy for clients like Universal Pictures, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, Airbnb, and Merck Pharmaceuticals, Jin has won multiple industry awards for his forward-thinking approach and his expertise with a mobile-first audience.

We spoke with Jin about how his immigrant upbringing impacted his perspective as a marketer, and why he founded CDA.

What inspires you when it comes to advertising?

I’m inspired when I see the breadth of independent creators out there, reaching a global audience with their stories and their content.

We’ve reached this amazing point in human history, where anyone with a voice has the opportunity to be heard worldwide. Almost anybody can afford high-quality production equipment & editing software, get trained on it, and then distribute content to a billion people on Youtube and Instagram.

The little guys and the underdogs finally have a real chance.

You like to root for the underdog?

Oh yeah, ever since I was a kid! I grew up with a this weird non-identity because of my heritage. I was too Korean for the kids in California to see me as an American, and I was too American for the kids in Seoul to see me as a Korean.

As a result, I always felt like an outsider, and I always related to stories about people with ideas that didn’t quite fit in. Stories where the heroes came from different cultures, or had different ideas, different points of view. I feel like those are the stories that make the biggest difference.

It’s one of the reasons I founded CDA; knowing that the industry was finally in a place where a small, underdog team like ours could still leave our mark on the world.

How did you go about building the team at CDA?

I’ve been working in marketing and advertising for most of my adult life, and I’ve had the privilege to work on some really exciting projects for big, international brands. One of the perks of this line of work is that you get exposed to really creative and talented people along the way, and if there’s a shared vision the pieces all just fall into place.

What’s something that most brands could be doing better when it comes to video?

I think most brands struggle to balance strategy with creative storytelling. They’ll either have an overly strategic approach that’s all about KPIs, but doesn’t take the audience into consideration, or they’ll get really amped up on an entertaining and creative idea that ultimately does nothing for the brand business-wise.

When we partner with a brand, before we even get started on creative ideation, we work really hard in the initial discovery phase to make sure we know the brand inside and out and the audience inside and out. That way, when we get into the design phase we are able to come up with concepts where the goals of the brand align with the needs of the audience.

Another thing I see all-too-often is brands trying to tell a story from their own point of view. “Our brand does X. Our brand believes in X.” It’s so much more powerful when you can tell a story from the audience’s point of view, and the brand message just appears naturally.