How the huge influence of BTS brings attention to brands

June 25, 2021

Written by Benedict Nicholson

BTS is one of the biggest groups of the 2000s, period. The K-Pop band has a devoted following online that sees content written about the group often swell to hundreds of thousands of engagements. Unsurprisingly, brands have noticed, and have begun to approach the band for collaborations. 

Global brands from the likes of McDonald’s to Fila and Samsung have done work with the group, and here we will examine the earned media coverage and public interest that emerged from the announcement and launches. 

But first some context on BTS.

BTS: The global K-pop phenomenon 

In the past three months alone, BTS have been covered in more than 65k articles, and those articles have amassed more than 35 million engagements in that time.

Public and media interest in BTS in the last three months

The majority of that engagement has come to either song release announcements or profiles of the band and its members. The most engaged example of the latter came from Rolling Stone, whose cover story entitled ‘The Triumph of BTS’ achieved more than a million engagements. This was part of a whole series on the band, with several different pieces garnering hundreds of thousands of engagements. The most engaged of these was the interview with V, which had 600k engagements.

During the month of May, when these articles ran, BTS content was responsible for 4.4 million of Rolling Stone’s 6.6 million engagements, despite only publishing 19 of the 852 articles written within that period. In other words, just 2% of the content drove 70% of the engagement that month, as shown by the rather stark chart below. 

The success of articles from Rolling Stone in May 2021

Their music also caused a stir, and the success of the group’s English-language single Butter was the stand-out among that reporting. ET Online had the biggest of these, with their story on its record-breaking status getting more than half a million engagements. 

But how does this translate to product partnerships with brands? We looked at five key ones to find out.

Five standout partnerships

The five key partnerships we looked at are with Hyundai, Louis Vuitton, Samsung, Fila, and McDonald’s, which have occurred at various times over the past two years, and have driven huge amounts of earned media. The graph below shows the engagement around the announcements in English language coverage, though often these partnerships receive worldwide attention.

Graph showing the pubblic interest in Samsung collaborations with Hyundai, McDonald's, LVB, Fila, and Samsung

Each of these partnerships has received hundreds of thousands of engagements, with the level of engagements with the McDonald’s and Samsung campaigns each netting close to a million.

The three most engaged were McDonald’s, Hyundai, and Samsung, so we’re going to look at those in even closer detail. 

The BTS and McDonald’s partnership 

One of the three biggest collaborations we looked at was the BTS Meal, launched with McDonald’s, and media and public engagement have lasted for months since the announcement of its launch in April.

Chart showing the public and media interest in the McDonald's collaboration with BTS

Media interest peaked on the day of the announcement, on April 19th, but public interest in coverage of the BTS Meal was highest on the day of its launch — May 26th. A merchandise line was also launched on the same day.

Chart showing the top stories on the McDonald's collaboration

The most engaged coverage came from Soompi, whose reporting on the launch garnered more than 44,000 engagements. Rolling Stone’s look at how the partnership came to be was the second most engaged with almost 35k engagements.

Not only was it a boon for earned media, but it has driven consistently high levels of engagement on the McDonald’s owned channels as well, with several Facebook posts receiving hundreds of thousands of engagements. A post explaining what the meal consisted of received 265k engagements, while the original announcement on the McDonald’s Facebook Page received 181k.

BTS and Samsung

Samsung’s partnership with BTS looked a little different, in that the engagement came to Samsung’s owned media channels for most of it.

Public and media interest in the Samsung collaboration

There were far fewer articles published around the announcement of a partnership, with only around 100 in the two months after the collaboration was announced. On February 18th, there was a small spike in coverage and public interest when the deal was officially announced

This was dwarfed on March 20th though, when behind the scenes shots of the group with the Samsung Galaxy phones were published on the Samsung website, receiving more than 700k engagements in the space of just a couple of days. This made up around 80 percent of the total engagement to the partnership during this two month period.

Top articles about the BTS & Samsung collaboration

Once again, Samsung’s social channels were also successful, with some posts garnering tens of thousands of engagements.

BTS and Hyundai

While it still had tens of thousands of engagements, the Hyundai partnership was the least engaged of the big ones we looked at.


Public and media interest in the Hyundai partnership

There were not many articles written, but they still generated more than 200k engagements in 2018, which was an early signal at the power these kinds of collaborations were going to have in the future. 

Almost all the engagement came to the initial announcement, again on Hyundai’s owned channels. There was some additional media interest when the deal was included as part of an analysis of the positive economic impact of BTS to Korea in the next ten years, but that did not capture the public interest much.

BTS, then, has been a powerhouse for brand collaborations and in their own right, and it seems as if their influence is only continuing to rise worldwide. 

If you’d like to do this kind of analysis for yourself, check out NewsWhip Spike.

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Benedict Nicholson

In addition to leading the NewsWhip Research Center in New York, Benedict Nicholson manages partnerships with internationally recognized media outlets furthering data journalism, which includes NewsWhip’s Data for Democracy program. Benedict also facilitates consultations with communicators from the top 10 public relations agencies across America and Europe and with Fortune 500 brands to discuss consumer engagement trends and effective media monitoring. Email Benedict via

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