Korean Sociological Image #35: Ready for some Hot 6iX?

(Source)

For all the misreadings of the title that undoubtedly brought many of you to this post(!), “Hot 6iX” (핫식스) is just a simple energy drink really, albeit a deliberate attempt by Lotte Chilsung (롯데칠성음료) to produce a Korean equivalent of Red Bull for the domestic market. And ultimately to belatedly tap into the global market too, currently worth 1.4 billion dollars and growing 20% every year despite the recession.

An avid drinker of “V” back when I lived in New Zealand, I think it’s about time. Much more interesting than the drink itself though, are what the 4 advertisements produced so far tell us about how quickly the Korean media is changing, and especially how men and women are presented therein. With apologies for giving the game away somewhat with the opening image, here they are:

Although my wife and I laughed at the joke in the first one too, I confess that I was already well into writing this post after only seeing the two featuring women. For they confirmed a strong and enduring division in the marketing of health, energy, and/or sports drinks whereby those aimed at men tend to promote the idea that the drink will give them extra energy for work, exercise, or even sex, but those at women that it will simply help them to lose weight. A phenomenon by no means confined only to Korea, you can imagine my surprise then, when I learned of the 6iX ad aimed at female drinkers also.

(Sources: left, right)

And although it sounds rather awkward, my delight too. For with the proviso that the objectification of men can be just as problematic as that of women, and its occurrence in the media in numbers comparable to that of women a bizarre and somewhat unlikely “solution” for the latter, I’d like to throw open for discussion the notion that any objections any of you may have – or imagine that others may have – to those first 2 advertisements are somewhat mollified by having an advertisement featuring a man also.  Or alternatively is that just me, and/or are the advertisements with women not all that objectionable in the first place?

Meanwhile, expect to see many more advertisements like them in coming months: the 4 above all have random numbers assigned to them, much like what were ultimately 30 or so in this “Confessions of 20-somethings” (스무살의 고백) advertising series of Maxwell House (맥스웰하우스) that started last year (see #2 here). And on a final note, it’s difficult to believe that advertisements objectifying men like this only really started in earnest last year, yes?

Update, July 2012: Alas, my prediction was completely wrong. There were no new commercials for over 2 years, and the new ones released this month don’t objectify either sex at all (although they do still target both men and women). See here for all the 2012 and 2010 ones.

(For more posts in the Korean Sociological Images series, see here)

18 thoughts on “Korean Sociological Image #35: Ready for some Hot 6iX?

  1. First time commenting on your excellent blog, and I have no background in Sociology whatsoever, but my quick opinion on the four advertisements (I’m from the UK if that didn’t alert you):

    1st one: Definitely objectifying women, but I would expect to see a similar advertisement here, targeted to young men on any evening/night-time TV slot in commercial breaks for a programme targeted at said young men. It got a smirk out of me (I’m a young man too :P) but no points for originality, Hot6.

    2nd: Hmm… Korean women have nice bodies, but I don’t see the point in this advert, too ludicrous perhaps? Blouses popping open are commonplace in lewd comedies here in the West, but skirts unzipping [i]upwards[/i]? Come on…

    3rd and 4th: I’m completely used to seeing six-pack abs in the media, so I wouldn’t get a thrill from this (nor I guess would a Western woman, it’s something far too commonplace in TV and films, and magazines, right?) but by now I was feeling as though the commercials were hackneyed and boring. It doesn’t work for images of guys, Hot6! (Though, imagine if the commercial had been of the male part, [i]drinking[/i] Hot6, then undergoing an Incredlble Hulk-esque transformation so that the shirt rips/explodes, rather than the buttons simply popping open. Then the advert would appeal to men as well as women, no? Unless Korean women generally find lots of muscle unattractive)

    • Thanks for your comment, and I agree with much of what you say about the ads. But although the one with skirt zipping upwards wasn’t well executed (I think there was too much of a delay after opening the can), I don’t think it’s that bad, as the advertisers will have to come up a lot of otherwise inane things like that to sustain the whole concept of the ads. But agreed that you can only see a guy’s shirt open to reveal a 6-pack so many times, although I’m not so sure that the hulk thing would work better on women at least. Can any women please help us out?^^

      • Oh, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing nice abs .. . unfortunately I can’t view the video right now, but . . . well, yes. Nice abs. Hulk-esque ripping is ok, but not necessary.

  2. The photoshopping is horribly overdone. In the first pic, the abs are so flat and the pecs so puffed out and rounded that they look like moobs. In the last pic with the shirt buttoned, the waist has been whittled so much that someone seeing only that image might mistake it for a woman’s figure.

      • actually, I suspect that it’s not necessarily photoshopping ~ quite a few men, particularly guys here in Korea, do end up with that kind of photo.
        My real quibble here is why anybody would want to partake in a drink which seems to stand a high chance of social embarrassment, seeing as it apparently sprays EVERYWHERE when you open it. I’m not sure having the hunky guy next to me have his shirt blown open would compensate me for the social awkwardness of having just stained the aformentioned shirt.

        • and looking at his pose . . .well, it’s unfortunate, but it contrubutes to the effect. His hips are tilted away from us, while the chest is toward us, and the profile looks vaguely feminine.

  3. These ads make me laugh. I don’t think they are too far from what we have in the western media. I think they are very similar to the:
    Axe –

    Old Spice –

    commercials that simply combine ridiculousness and sexiness. Although, that old spice commercial is one of the best commercials I’ve seen in a while.

      • Loved the Old Spice ad myself, but the Axe one…? Hmmm, wouldn’t say I minded it per se, but the themes in Axe commercials as a whole are somewhat repetitive. And hey, I like seeing bikinis just as much as the next guy, but I was honestly wincing thinking of women doing virtual marathons in them, and regardless the breast-bouncing shots are precisely as sophisticated as Japanese game shows…

        • Unfortunately, that’s one of the *least* offensive axe commercials. They all read exactly as if they had been created by and for frat boys. Actually, that’s probaby not far from the truth.

          My brother and his friend once got into a mock fight at a local Target, and sprayed each other with the samples of Axe products . . . they ended up taking off as many layers of clothing as they could with any decency, driving home with the windows of the car rolled down, and immediately had to put their clothes in the laundry and take showers as soon as they got home. The stench was that bad.

          • Had no idea…don’t think I’ve ever smelt it personally, and living here just have to wear whatever cheap deodorant my long-suffering father sends me from Australia myself (not that my wife has ever complained!).

    • Me too: like I said, I really miss V! But speaking of Bacchaus, the placebo effect of all of these sorts of drinks must be quite high, for I honestly used to feel an effect from it when I thought they had nicotine in them (don’t have a bottle on me to confirm sorry, but think that it’s actually Niacin, or Nicotonic Acid).

  4. I would brush aside these two ads as humorous and satirical but not necessarily a good example for comparison between objectification of men and women since it pokes fun at sexual desire as a whole, how everyone likes to see unclothed hot people and objectification of bodies itself for that matter. It’s a bit too blatant with the heads and legs cut off and the fact that we know exactly what’s going to happen when that can opens because of cut frame on tight shirts and skirts. As you said, more so because there are both men and women, I can’t really take it to be a very negative sort of objectification, or at least one that says a lot about how female bodies are perceived in contrast to the male body. I think the main problem with those ads is that I have no idea what the energy drink is supposed to do then. Unclothe people?

    But contrary to what I said, inserting male objectification doesn’t justify the female equivalent. Sorry I’m a bit too braindead to give evidence for this rather opinionated statement.

    • Sorry for not replying earlier Catherine, but I agreed with everything you said, and for the sake of having something useful to add I didn’t want to write until I could find something related to your last statement that came to mind, but which I blogged about ages ago. And here it finally is, about a Korean air-bag commercial that used women’s breasts, which generated a lot of debate, and in which in passing I referred to this British woman’s (lengthy) thoughts on whether male objectification doesn’t justify the female equivalent. Hope you find them both interesting!

  5. Pingback: Women and Gaming from a Male Perspective, Part One: The History | Double Crit

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