Hello Soju, a premium soju seltzer that launched on Friday at Coachella has been accused of design theft.
On April 17, New York-based Korean soju brand Hummy accused the LA-based soju brand by The Hello Group (THG), Hello Soju, of plagiarizing the design of its soju cans, according to Hummy’s Instagram.
David Lee and Chris Park, co-founders of Hummy, posted a photo of the two soju cans on Instagram with the caption, “Feeling déjà vu?”
Hello Soju made its debut as a premium soju during a promotional event at Coachella on April 14. The Hello Soju can has a design of a white background with a red, green, and lime green base on the bottom of the can. In the center of the can, a hummingbird-like bird flaps its wings in a black circle. The words “Hello Soju” in English and “Hello” in Korean are written directly below.
“When we saw this new brand, we couldn’t help but wonder whether it looked too familiar,” wrote Lee and Park, who also took notice of similarities in color, placement of the tagline and the hummingbird logo.
The original can of Hummy Soju, which was released first, also has a design of a white background with an orange, yellow, and green base. Co-founders Lee and Park were inspired by the hummingbird and incorporated the bird logo and circle into the can design. The color scheme and logo are similar for both products.
“We’re not here to be exclusive about Korean culture and love that it’s entering the mainstream,” the co-founders said. “But we believe that what looks to us like copying another brand’s design, copy or marketing is not the right way to honor the culture.”
Hello Group (CEO Taylor Jonas), the entertainment company behind Hello Soju, is headquartered in Los Angeles. The company launched the Hello Soju Instagram account two weeks ago, stating that it was developed to “celebrate the beauty and ingenuity of Korean culture.” The company has not yet commented on the alleged design plagiarism.
BY HYUNGJAE KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]