Japanese messaging app Line has always made a big thing of its animated characters, which are used as ‘stickers’ in its users’ conversations, as well as appearing in mobile games, merchandise and cartoons.
Now the company is working with one of the biggest K-Pop bands, BTS, on their own range of characters. BT21 are eight characters ‘designed’ by the band, and made available through Line’s range of apps on 26 September.
Billboard reports that the characters have been downloaded more than 8m times since then, with 71m Twitter ‘exposures’ (although that doesn’t seem like a hugely-important stat given that Line’s messaging app will be the core for this activity).
RJ, Koya, Chimmy, Shooky, Mang, Tata, Cooky and Van are planned to evolve into a “hip-hop and street fashion” clothing and merchandise brand, with Line to push the products in real-world retailers.
“We wanted to come up with something that we can sell to even just ordinary people who don’t really know about BTS,” said Line Friends America boss Sehoon Chang. “But later on, they can find out, ‘Oh, you know what? There is BTS behind these characters’.”
Maybe BT21 should manufacture a beef with Gorillaz to make the brand really take off…