Creative Korean Advertising #24: Will They? Won’t They?

Apologies for the slow posting folks: last week, I developed a “swellbow” from writing at my computer for too long, and it’s made sleeping a little difficult, let alone blogging. And I could mention the heatwave and my daughter’s kindergarten closing for 2 weeks too, but you get the idea!

Hence my original intention here just to pass on the deceptively innocent advertisement above, which had me burst out laughing at its crude sexual symbolism. But in hindsight it is also noteworthy both for having a woman initiating a relationship (possibly the first of its kind?), and for being part of a creative multimedia campaign featuring tantalizing hints of various episodes in various couples’ dating lives, which you’re then encouraged to find out more about by using the electronic tags on the bottles to download the “full stories” directly to your smart phone. Take a look for yourself:

Yes, my curiosity was especially piqued by the one involving kissing too, and it’s difficult to believe now that you only began seeing that in Korean advertisements just last year.  Regardless, fortunately the full stories are also available at the company website and now Youtube, and ironically that particular one ends up being more charming than anything else:

I hope you enjoyed them, and for anyone that missed the humor in the very first advertisement, then take a closer look at o:19 specifically. Lest you feel I’m reading too much into that however, then let me draw your attention to similar examples here, here, here, and here also!^^

(For more posts in the Creative Korean Advertising series, see here)

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Creative Korean Advertising #16: The Male Gaze

Diamond Ogilvy Korea Olympus E3 Autofocus( Source: Add Shots )

Given my Feminist pretensions, then usually I’d instinctively feel defensive about my decision to post an ad like this, and in the past this has often prompted me to write lengthy arguments about how, say, exposure of breasts per se shouldn’t be regarded as sexist. But with some notable exceptions (and from which I’ve learned a great deal from), whether through preaching to the converted, most of my readers being men(?), or some other reason, judging by the lack of detracting comments on those occasions then such justifications have probably proved unnecessary.

So, I’ll let it go: readers certainly don’t need me to spell out that on the one hand this ad is definitely objectifying, but on the other that men would behave exactly the same way even if women had achieved complete equality, and can decide for themselves if it’s sexist or not (I’m still happy to discuss that in the comments section though). In the meantime, I’m learning to feel less ashamed about the unabashed grins ads like this put on my face, especially the first ad in this post.

Actually, a much more interesting issue it raises is its directness. Of course objectifying women is hardly new or unique to Korean ads, but I can’t think of any other example that so blatantly incorporates the corresponding (sexual) male gaze into its message, and this makes it more sexual than, say, the sudden spate of couples kissing in Korean advertisements that is making news recently (see here, here, and here). On top of that, it actually went up way back in November 2007 too (see the details here), which raises some interesting questions:

  • How common was it?
  • Where was it posted?
  • Were there any complaints?
  • If so, was it removed from circulation?
  • If not, why have there been no similar ads since?
  • Or perhaps there have been, it’s just that I didn’t notice them?

If any readers can help me with any of those, I’d appreciate it. In the morning, and with apologies for not doing this first, I’ll scour Naver and so on and see if there’s anything in Korean on it.

Update: Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything at all about this ad in Korea, either at Naver or Yahoo! Korea, and which makes me wonder if it was actually released or not? But as for ads featuring the male gaze, I forgot about this one with Han Ye-seul (한예슬) for lingerie company Venus (비너스). From February 2008:

(For all posts in my “Creative Korean Advertising” series, see here)

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