Brand Adverts in K-Dramas

Brand advertisements in Korean dramas (known as K-Dramas) are rather interesting. Their always in the form of rather obvious product placement, contrasting from other types of shows that I’ve seen (Canadian, American, Mexican, Norwegian, etc.). It is very easy to tell when a brand is being product placed within a show, making it look almost comical.

How does product placement in K-Dramas differ from shows from other regions? All shows have brand advertising in some way, shape, or form, as a show of sponsorship and brand advertisements. Product Placement was even made fun of in the movie Wayne’s World, where they obviously showed off different products while saying that they would do no such thing. So what makes product placement in K-Dramas so special?

Well, because of how obvious it is. When a show has product placement, it’s not just an almost-subtle appearance-it’s noticeable. Let’s take two examples-cars and phones. When a phone (often Samsung, a Korean company) is advertised in a show, it’s usually in the form of all the main characters having the newest version of that phone (or, getting an upgrade to that version, if they didn’t have it before). Old phones are made fun of or remarked on as ‘ancient’, calling attention to the phone. By contrast, product placement for phones in shows from other regions are much more subtle, mostly through a particular character’s (only one) use of the phone for interaction. Not all characters have the same phone (there are some exceptions to this, but they are exceptions).

As for cars, they are like phones, in that all the main characters, if they can afford one, has the same car (just different colors). The cars roll up in a cool-shot scene, practically flexing the brand. These cars are also commented on, drawing more attention to the product, especially their luxurious and sleek look. They are obvious and out there for the audience, letting you know that it is definitely a brand advert.

Now, there isn’t anything particularly wrong with having obvious product placement in K-Dramas. If that’s what gets people interesting in the product, then that’s what works. It’s just kind of funny to see the way in which products are placed in K-Dramas, and how it’s so different from other kinds of shows.

Note: This type of advertisement only really applies to the ones that take place in modern South Korea (which is a majority of them).

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